Bob and Mary Jane posing with plaque

Mary Jane Borden recieves the Free Press Libby Award for Community Activism from Bob Fitrakis
Photos by Bob Studzinski

It was a night of comradery and celebration at Ace of Cups on November 4 when the Free Press held our 2019 annual awards ceremony. DJ laChewla started the evening off with a variety of music genres and a little rock-n-roll as people gathered and waited for the Yellow Brick pizzas to arrive for dinner. Former award winners, other Free Press friends, writers, and readers socialized and enjoyed the food, drink and music. Brian Clash, a former Free Press award winner, played a set including his inspirational protest songs.

To kick off the awards ceremony, Free Press Editor Bob Fitrakis introduced Daniel Moss as the presenter of the award named for his father, the legendary Bill Moss. Daniel gave a short talk about his father, who was a local musician, record producer, DJ, and longtime Columbus Board of Education member. He presented the Bill Moss Award for Outstanding African American artists to Tony and Aziza West. Tony West and the Imani dancers have entertained and educated us with their African drumming, dancing and teaching for decades. Tony and Aziza are known for being “keepers of the tradition” as they work to preserve African culture in our town.

The Free Press honored Jaime Pardo with the Free Press Volunteer award for his persistent and tireless weekly and monthly distribution of the newspaper since 2013. Jaime has a history of volunteerism from the 2011 Occupy Columbus movement to Move to Amend and the Columbus Community Bill of Rights. He entertained the crowd with his acceptance speech.

The Outstanding Community Organization award went to the Black, Queer and Intersectional Collective (BQIC) for their very successful grassroots Community Pride event and ongoing arts and support events for black queer and trans people. BQIC representatives Charlie Stewart and Dkeama Alexis accepted the award and in the spirit of the month for Black Trans Life and Liberation, read off the names of the trans people murdered in the past decade.

Free Pressmarijuana columnist and long-time marijuana legalization activist Mary Jane Borden received the Free Press “Libby” Award for Lifetime Achievement in Community Activism. Mary Jane co-founded and led five cannabis-oriented groups including the Ohio Rights Group and DrugSense/Media Awareness Project. She also co-authored four proposed constitutional amendments, lobbied for six medical marijuana bills, composed 41 funded grants.

After the ceremony, Bob Fitrakis kicked off a tribute to much beloved local activist and former Free Press graphic designer Charlie Einhorn who passed away earlier this year. As a slideshow played photos of him from the 60s until today, his friend Candy Watkins, wife Lynn Stan and son Aaron spoke about Charlie and his accomplishments. He is well known for working the stages at Comfest and Hot Times, a hippie store named “Charlie’s Guitar” named for his guitar, being an ESL teacher and spreading love and cheer to all. Darryl Mendelsson played “The Legend of Charlie Einhorn” to the tune of David Crockett with the chorus: “Charlie, Charlie Einhorn, King of the Hot Times MC's.”

Donna Mogavero, the headline act, mesmerized the audience with her original work and an occasional cover song. She has long supported the Free Press and is known for playing at anti-war rallies and fundraisers throughout the years. Dan Dougan and the “Little Bothers” ended the evening with rousing rock’n’roll and another musical tribute to Charlie later in the evening had the audience singing along to: “Are we having fun yet? Charlie’s Guitar is where it’s at!”