Rather than focus on his "activism" or his awards, I will mention only one film, "The Silver Chalice." Silver Chalice was unique even in its own day (1954) and especially today. Chalice was a Christian based film, set in ancient Rome (Nero's reign) and telling the story of the chalice that had been used by Christ at the Last Supper.
Paul Newman in Silver Chalice
It has been years since I saw the movie, but I recall the plot as a fictionalized account of how the chalice was lost. Another theme of the movie involved power and how those who obtain power can become consumed by their own importance and lose perspective.
Silver Chalice - 1954
The movie also starred Jack Palance, Lorne Greene, E.G. Marshall, Natalie Wood (in a small role) and other notables (including Pier Angeli whose bio is itself a fascinating story).
Pier Angeli with then husband Vic Damone
My Way described the role briefly in its obituary:
Newman started in movies the year before , in "The Silver Chalice," a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize.
Newman may have despised the movie, but we can celebrate it as we mourn the passing not only of Newman, but of an era in which movies with a Christian theme could exist.