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Four productions about black Americans win 2017 Wilbur Awards

A motion picture, two television productions and a non-fiction book that tell stories of black Americans lead the list of 2017 Wilbur Award winners.

NEW YORK — A motion picture, two television productions and a non-fiction book that tell stories of black Americans lead the list of 2017 Wilbur Award winners.

The Religion Communicators Council announced 26 Wilbur Award winners March 7. The awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – in communicating religious issues, values and themes during 2016.

Hidden Figures, the 20th Century Fox production about African-American women behind astronaut John Glenn’s historic space launch; Roots, the History Channel’s remake of Alex Haley’s portrait of American slavery; black-ish, ABC-TV’s comedy about a black family’s search for cultural identity; and New York University Press book, Black Women’s Christian Activism: Seeking Social Justice in a Northern Suburb, are to receive individually crafted stained-glass Wilbur trophies at an awards ceremony in Chicago next month.

The 2017 awards are to be presented April 1 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare during the council’s 88th annual national convention.

Other Wilbur winners include The Associated Press, Canadian Broadcasting Company, CBS News, National Geographic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee), and WAND-TV 17, Decatur, Illinois.

The Religion Communicators Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. Secular communicators enter work in seven categories. Juries of media professionals, coordinated by council members across the country, evaluate submissions on content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values.

The award is named for the late Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in religious public relations, longtime council leader and former Presbyterian Church executive.

2017 Wilbur Award winners (for work produced during 2016):

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES print and online

MAGAZINE ARTICLES print and online

BOOKS including e-Books


  • Drama

    • Hidden Figures, Theodore Melfi, director; Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, Theodore Melfi, producers; Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, screenplay writers; 20th Century Fox
  • Documentary (30 min.+)

    • Big Sonia, Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday, directors; Leah Warshawski, producer; Inflatable Film, Seattle, Washington


  • Faith-based blogs

    • Sick Pilgrim, Jessica Mesman Griffith and Jonathan Ryan, Traverse City, Michigan
  • Social Media

  • Multimedia

    • Silent Sanctuaries,” Laura Schneiderman, interactive developer; Peter Smith, religion editor; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


  • Drama

    • Roots, Mark Rosenthal, Lawrence Konner, Alison McDonald, Charles Murray, writers; History, New York, New York
  • News – network or national syndication (up to 8 min.)

    • The Harmony Project,” Jane Pauley correspondent; Rand Morrison, executive producer; Dustin Stephens, producer; Lauren Barnello and Carol A. Ross editors; CBS Sunday Morning, CBS News, New York, New York
  • News – network or national syndication (8 min.+)

    • The Resurrection of St. Benedict’s,” Scott Pelley, correspondent; Jeff Fager, executive producer; Guy Campanile and Andrew Bast, producers; Peter M. Berman, editor; 60 Minutes, CBS News, New York, New York
  • Public Broadcasting (up to 8 mins)

    • Cochin Synagogue,” Fred de Sam Lazaro, reporter; Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Washington, D.C.
  • Public Broadcasting (more than 8 mins.)

  • News – local

  • Documentary (up to 30 min.)

    • Religion and Democracy,” Elizabeth Kineke, producer; John P. Blessington, senior executive producer; CBS Television: Religion and Culture, CBS News, New York, New York
  • Documentary (30 min.+)

    • The Story of God with Morgan Freeman,” James Younger, Lori McCreary, Morgan Freeman, Michael J. Miller, Simon Andreae, executive producers; Scott Tiffany, supervising producer; Frank Kosa, producer; National Geographic, Washington, D.C.
  • Comedy

    • “God,” black-ish, Kenya Barris, creator/executive producer; Laura Gutin Pearson, episode writer/producer; ABC Television, Burbank, California

RADIO OR PODCASTS feature stories, not commentary


About the Religion Communicators Council

RCC logoThe Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an association of communications professionals who work for and with a diverse group of faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and development.