Allegheny College Presents U.S. Congressmen Collins and Jeffries with 2019 Prize for Civility in Public Life

Sep 27, 2019
Press Release
Award Recognizes Colleagues for Collaboration Resulting in Federal Criminal Justice Reform

WASHINGTONAllegheny College President Emeritus James H. Mullen, Jr., today presented the 2019 Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life to U.S. Congressmen Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) for their collaborative work toward criminal justice reform, which resulted in passage of the bipartisan First Step Act.

“This friendship is an example America dearly needs right now,” said President Emeritus Mullen. “Representatives Collins and Jeffries are at different ends of the ideological spectrum, and their districts are as different as America herself. They disagree strongly on key issues but never demonize each other, and they look for opportunities when they can work together for America. They found that in criminal justice reform, and our nation is better for their work together – lifted up by their example.”

Brought together by their shared Baptist faith and love of music, Representatives Collins and Jeffries have partnered on several pieces of bipartisan legislation since both arriving in Congress in 2013. In addition to the First Step Act – which helps the formerly incarcerated successfully reintegrate into work and society – Collins and Jeffries worked together on the passage of the Music Modernization Act, which updates copyright laws for songwriters.

“Diversity in the marketplace of ideas is what makes this country the greatest on earth, but we must never lose sight of one fundamental principle: What unites us as Americans is far greater than anything that could ever divide us,” said Collins. “It’s an incredible honor to receive this award alongside my friend Hakeem Jeffries, and I’m thankful to Allegheny College for inspiring leaders to promote civility in public service.”

“Congressman Collins has a head for the work and a heart for the people. I think that combination really made it clear he’d be a great partner to try to get some things done here in Congress. I am honored to call him a friend and grateful for this honor,” said Jeffries.

Allegheny College created its national Prize for Civility in Public Life in 2011 to recognize two public figures, one from the left and one from the right, who argue passionately but with civility for their beliefs.

“Crossing what at first appear to be impossible political and personal divides, a proud Trump Republican and progressive Brooklynite have shown us what true civility looks like,” said Governor Tom Ridge, the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and advisor to the civility prize. “It is the responsibility of Congress to take on some of the most complex and divisive issues in America today, yet too often, partisanship stands in the way of progress. Representatives Collins and Jeffries have not only proven themselves to be rising stars on the House Judiciary committee, but as role models for their colleagues in Congress as well.”

Last year, the Prize for Civility in Public Life was awarded to Texas Congressmen Will Hurd and Beto O’Rourke for their captivating “Bipartisan Road Trip,” which showed the nation that political adversaries can disagree on issues spiritedly, but with civility.

Other previous winners of the national award include: the remarkable friendship of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia in 2017; then-Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who were recognized in 2016 for the powerful moments of civility they displayed during a modern presidential campaign; and the “Women of the U.S. Senate,” who were honored in 2014 for banding together to help end a government shutdown and creating a more civil climate in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the Prize for Civility in Public Life, visit Allegheny College’s website.