March For Our Lives activists, others honored at Smithsonian awards

Nicholas Sakelaris
A Parkland, Fla., student holds a sign during a March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., on March 24. File Photo by David Tulis /UPI
A Parkland, Fla., student holds a sign during a March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., on March 24. File Photo by David Tulis /UPI | License Photo

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Smithsonian Institution honored several Americans Wednesday night with its American Ingenuity Awards.

The institution's magazine honored leaders in the fields of life science, performing arts, technology, social progress, visual arts, youth and history.


The Youth Award went to the founders of March for Our Lives, a group started by survivors of the shooting attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida this year. The group lobbies for common sense gun control and uses the online social tag, #Neveragain.

The group, which received a standing ovation from the crowd Wednesday night, has so far marched in Tallahassee, Fla., and Washington, D.C., to call for change. Observers estimated that the D.C. march was the largest since the Vietnam War.

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Comedian Cheech Marin presented the History award to actor John Leguizamo, who created a one-man show, Latin History for Morons, which won Best Play this year and will soon be on Netflix.

The Visual Arts award went to filmmaker John Krasinski, who co-wrote, directed and took the male lead in the film A Quiet Place. Krasinski explained he'd just had his second daughter when someone pitched the film, which depicts humans trying to survive on an Earth that's been overrun by a noise targeting alien.

Perhaps the highlight of the night happened when singer Janelle Monae accepted her Performing Arts Award for her album Dirty Computer and was surprised by legendary musician Stevie Wonder. Nobody in the crowd knew he'd be a presenter. He called Monae one of the most revolutionary recording artists today.

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"I can't tell you how wonderful it is to hear the way that she takes through her music sounds that she grew up with and weaves them into something fresh," Wonder said.

The awards were given on the same day former President George H.W. Bush was memorialized in Washington, D.C. Marin recalled once having dinner with the 41st president and first lady Barbara Bush.

"He was the most remarkable, wonderful host throughout the evening, and Mrs. Bush as well," he said. "And I was flabbergasted at what a compassionate, and generous, and loving man he was just in the space of that one evening."

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March for Our Lives Rally in Washington, D.C.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez took the stage at the Washington, D.C., march for 6 minutes and 20 seconds, the length of time the shooting went on at the school on February 14. She also read the names of those who died. Photo by David Tulis /UPI

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