The 'Torch of Freedom Award' is a prestigious award presented by the ACLU of Utah to individuals or organizations whose unwavering commitment and exceptional contributions have significantly advanced the cause of civil rights and liberties in Utah. 

For 2023, we are honored to bestow this distinguished award upon the founding partners of the Let Utah Read coalition in recognition of their remarkable efforts to protect against censorship, fight book bannings, and their dedication to the fundamental principles of freedom of expression and access to information.

About 2023 Torch of Freedom Awardees

Peter Bromberg

Peter and EveryLibrary are building voter support for libraries.

Photo of Peter Bromberg with a logo of Everylibrary.

About Peter Bromberg
Associate Director, EveryLibrary

As Associate Director for EveryLibrary Peter brings over 30 years of library experience to his work advocating for libraries on local, state, and national levels. He provides pro bono consulting to librarians, boards, associations, ballot committees, and watchdog groups, helping them to fight censorship through the use of effective messaging and political strategies to build coalitions and community support. Peter also serves as the Co-Chair for the Utah Library Association's Advocacy Committee.

A quote from Peter 
I have been a long-time admirer and supporter of ACLU's work protecting and preserving civil rights, and fighting for equity and justice for all Americans. Being recognized with a Torch of Freedom award for the anti-censorship work I am doing with so many amazing colleagues in Utah is humbling, and deeply meaningful to me.

Paisley Rekdal

Paisley and Pen Utah are uniting writers & their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the freedom to write by recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.

Photo of Paisley Rekdal with PEN UTAH logo next to her image.

About Paisley Rekdal
PEN Utah's Chair, Author

Paisley is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Utah, where she also directs the American West Center. She is PEN Utah's chair, and the author of twelve books, the most recent of which is WEST: A TRANSLATION, which is long listed for the National Book Award in Poetry, 2023.

A quote from Paisley
As a writer and an educator, I thrive on the free exchange of ideas and in exploring the full range and complexity of human experiences and identities. I'm humbled to receive this award, especially since it validates what I most deeply believe in: free expression allows us to be most human.

Rebekah Cummings

Rebekah and the Utah Library Association are cultivating professional development, connection, and inclusivity to promote strong Utah libraries.

Photo of Rebekah Cummings with Utah Library Association Logo.

About Rebekah Cummings
Digital Matters Interim Director, University of Utah
Advocacy Committee, Co-Chair, Utah Library Association

Rebekah Cummings is the Interim Director of Digital Matters at the University of Utah Marriott Library where she coordinates digital humanities research, teaching, and support. In 2018 – 2019, Rebekah served as the Utah Library Association President and has since co-chaired the ULA Advocacy Committee, which helps ULA members advocate for sustainable funding and promotes legislative support for library services, funding, and issues.

A Quote from Rebekah
Receiving the Torch of Freedom Award for the Let Utah Read coalition is an incredible honor that fuels my commitment to ensuring everyone's right to read and choose their own stories in Utah. Libraries and reading have always been where I feel the most free. Wandering the stacks, running my fingers along the spines, and selecting books that appealed to me was the ultimate agency as a child. I had excellent parents and librarians who guided my reading choices but never limited them, which is the model I bring to my own parenting and librarianship today. Many thanks for this award to my amazing band of merry readers at ACLU Utah and the Let Utah Read coalition. Free people read freely!

Maria K. Alberto

Maria is building a community of readers and writers dedicated to critical and creative approaches to a complex world.

Photo of Maria  K. Alberto.

About Maria K. Alberto
PhD candidate in the English department, University of Utah.

A quote from Maria
I am delighted and honored to be receiving this, and it has been a pleasure working with ACLU this past summer!