2021 Distinguished Achievement Award

What We Know book coverEvident Change is thrilled to announce that What We Know: Solutions From Our Experiences in the Justice System is the winner of this year’s Distinguished Achievement Award. The book was co-edited by Vivian Nixon and Daryl V. Atkinson and brings together essays from two dozen people who were formerly incarcerated. What We Know offers solutions to an array of problems endemic to the US adult justice system. Some of the solutions are simple; some are more complex. However, they all come from the perspective of those with lived experience in the system.

What We Know was chosen for this award by guest judges Emmanuel Dzotsi, Tracy Wareing Evans, and C’Ardiss Gardner Gleser—in large part for the voices that the book amplifies. For system change to benefit everyone, we need to hear from those most impacted by that system.  

As one judge remarked, “I love that it’s called What We Know. These are the people who know. It was compelling. It was amazing how the suggestions were so practical.”

The book’s co-editors are affiliated with The Square One Project, an initiative of the Columbia University Justice Lab that focuses on promoting and nurturing new ideas in social and racial justice policy. Rev. Nixon is the writer in residence for the project. Mr. Atkinson is co-director of Forward Justice, a nonprofit law, policy, and strategy center working to advance racial, social, and economic justice in the US south. In this role, he also serves as an expert for The Square One Project. Both co-editors were formerly incarcerated.

“This is indeed an honor and a privilege,” said Rev. Nixon upon learning of the Distinguished Achievement Award. “I counted it a joy to be able to elevate the voices of those who are seldom listened to.”

The Distinguished Achievement Award is given annually in conjunction with Evident Change’s Media for a Just Society Awards to recognize outstanding work that offers meaningful insight into the complexities of US social systems.  


Past Distinguished Achievement Award winners: