The Richard D. McLellan Prizes at the Russell Kirk Center

Freedom of expression and the guarantees of our First Amendment are among our most cherished, and hard won, liberties. They are fundamental to who we are as Americans.

And yet, declining levels of civic literacy threaten to sever a younger generation from their country’s rich inheritance of order, justice, and freedom. The rise of disinformation through social media and curbs on free speech and expression on campuses, workplaces, public spaces, and corporate boardrooms, make reinforcing and advancing this most fundamental freedom an urgent task.

The Richard D. McLellan Prizes at the Russell Kirk Center aim to help reshape the national conversation on issues surrounding the durability and prospects for the American tradition of free speech and expression as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

The McLellan Prizes draw attention to the central importance of the free speech tradition, particularly recognizing those doing the most important and exciting work in that area. They recognize and encourage talented thinkers, creators, and communicators capable of rearticulating the perennial importance of the First Amendment, and transmitting a better understanding of the freedoms it secures for all.

The McLellan Prizes Will Encourage the Best in Creative Works to Champion Free Expression 

Through the generous support of Richard D. McLellan, the Kirk Center will annually award a $50,000 prize that recognizes and encourages the best writing, creative works, actions, and new media communications in the area of Freedom of Speech and Expression. In addition, two outstanding writers will be awarded $12,500 summer research grants to pursue projects that enhance our understanding and advocacy of Free Speech rights. Together they will support those making an exceptional case for the perennial wisdom and ongoing necessity of the American tradition of free speech.

We believe that these awards will take their place among the most sought-after prizes and will provide a needed incentive for writers and related thinkers to advocate afresh for the central importance of the First Amendment’s defense of the freedom of speech.

More information about the McLellan Prizes for Advancing Free Speech and Expression including eligibility and nomination criteria can be found in our brochure. To nominate McLellan Prizes candidates, please complete the nomination form below.

All nominations for the 2024 prize are due by July 31, 2024, and eligible works must have been completed between January 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024.

The Richard D. McLellan Prizes Jury Members

John Engler (Jury Chairman)
Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.
Susan Goldberg
Judge James C. Ho
Walter Edward Hussman, Jr.
Heather Mac Donald
Judge Michael W. McConnell
Jacob Mchangama
Charles L. Overby
Dr. James R. Stoner, Jr.
Nadine Strossen