Author and Activist Jane Fonda to Receive 2023 Steinbeck Award

by | Aug 31, 2023 | Awards and Achievements

San José State’s Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies is delighted to share that Jane Fonda will be accepting the John Steinbeck “In the Souls of the People” Award at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Wednesday, September 13. You can find more information, including a link to purchase tickets, below.

The Cox Center has the sanction of the Steinbeck estate to give the John Steinbeck “In the Souls of the People Award” to writers, artists, thinkers and activists whose work captures Steinbeck’s empathy, commitment to democratic values and belief in the dignity of people who by circumstance are pushed to the fringes. Previous recipients include Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Dolores Huerta, Sean Penn, Rachel Maddow, Bill McKibben, and José Andrés.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda will receive the 2023 John Steinbeck Award this September.

In her book of climate activism, “What Can I Do? My Path From Climate Despair to Action,” Fonda speaks about the themes of Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” and how they long ago instilled in her the need for justice, for freedom, for fairness, for equality. It is because of this that on Wednesday, September 13, Fonda will receive the 2023 Steinbeck Award during a Climate One program, live from the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. She will participate in an onstage conversation with Greg Dalton, founder of Climate One. The John Steinbeck Award will be presented to her by Daniel Rivers, executive director of the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies. 


“We’re delighted to be giving Jane Fonda the 2023 John Steinbeck In the Souls of the People Award,” said Rivers. “The title of the award comes from Chapter 25 of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, which reflects on the corporate consolidation of California agriculture, the manipulation of workers and county governments, and the willful destruction of surplus crops while hundreds of thousands of Dust Bowl migrants suffered from malnutrition, scarcity, and starvation.

“As an activist, Fonda embodies this legacy of critique and public engagement, and she has committed herself to supporting climate solutions that center those people and communities who have been most affected by environmental injustice. As an advocate, writer and public activist, Fonda encourages us to look for practical and effective ways that we can contribute to the movement for a more just and sustainable future.

“And we encourage everyone to read Fonda’s recent book ‘What Can I Do: My Path From Climate Despair to Action’, which offers a primer on the movement for climate justice while also recounting Fonda’s experience holding two months of Fire-Drill Friday strikes at the White House in support of the Green New Deal.”

Get tickets to the Sept. 13 Climate One event to see Jane Fonda accept the 2023 Steinbeck Award.