The Freedom From Religion Foundation, to recognize the special contributions of women to freethought and the battle to keep state and church separate, bestows a “Freethought Heroine Award” at many of its national conventions. The first Freethought Heroine Award was given to actress Butterfly McQueen, a Life Member of the Foundation, in 1989. The Foundation, after the 1995 death of Foundation co-founder Charline Kirkpatrick Kotula, specified some of the subsequent awards be given in memory of Charline Kirkpatrick Kotula.
Charline Kotula was vice-president East of the Foundation with her husband, Jo, for many years, and co-directed its New Jersey FFRF chapter. The stalwart couple were civil libertarians and activists, who marched on Washington for civil rights and peace, and were among the best boosters of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in its early years. Charline, a mother of five, was an ardent feminist. Her husband, Jo, was an acclaimed aviator artist and illustrator.