Governor Lowell Weicker Named Recipient of 1992 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award
BOSTON, MA, May 18, 1992 - Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that the recipient of the 1992 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is Connecticut Governor Lowell P. Weicker, Jr., 61.
On February 13, 1991, a month after his inauguration as governor, Weicker sent shock waves throughout Connecticut by proposing a personal income tax as part of his fiscal year 1992 budget package in a powerful State of the State address. He believed that for Connecticut to survive its worst financial crisis since the Depression and fairly meet its obligations it would have to accept an income tax along with substantial spending cuts.
Since 1987, Connecticut had experienced a period of continuing decline, and by the end of the 1991 fiscal year, the state was faced with a record $963 million deficit. One of only 10 states in the country without an income tax, Connecticut had strongly resisted such a tax.
On August 23,1991, after six months of deadlock in a rancorous battle, Governor Weicker's broad-based budget package, including the income tax, was approved by the Connecticut legislature.
Governor Weicker demonstrated extraordinary political courage in this battle. He risked his career by challenging the status quo and the popular bipartisan anti-income tax tradition. Despite intense political and public criticism, threats to his safety, and large-scale bitter protests, he persevered and finally prevailed in this fight. His steadfast leadership on this major issue stands as a reminder for all American citizens and officials that governments at every level in this country can and must find the resources needed to meet their obligations to the people they serve. As Governor Weicker stated on October 9,1991 during a speech at Yale University, "Respect - if not re-election - comes from speaking the truth, standing up for what you believe in and taking some licks."
Governor Weicker will receive the silver lantern that symbolizes the award and a $25,000 stipend at a ceremony to be held at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 28th. The ceremony, which also commemorates the 75th anniversary of the birth of President Kennedy, will also be attended by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Caroline B. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
The award takes its name from Profiles in Courage, the 1957 Pulitzer-Prize-winning book written by John F. Kennedy when he was a Senator from Massachusetts. The award was established by the Kennedy Library Foundation in 1989 to honor the quality of political courage in contemporary public life. The book describes events from U.S. history in which courageous elected officials took principled stands on difficult positions and risked the wrath of their constituents. In the book, President Kennedy described such individuals as persons "whose abiding loyalty to their nation triumphed over all personal and political considerations... who showed the real meaning of courage and a real faith in democracy."
Charles Weltner, currently a justice on the Supreme Court of Georgia, was the 1991 recipient of the award. As a United States Congressman from Georgia in 1966, Weltner signed a loyalty oath to support the entire state party ticket in the general election that year. When Lester Maddox, an advocate of segregation, emerged as the party's nominee for Governor, Weltner withdrew from his race for re-election, rather than comply with the loyalty oath.
The recipient of the first Profile in Courage Award in 1990 was former United States Congressman Carl Elliott of Alabama who was selected for leading the successful effort to enact the landmark National Defense Education Act of 1958. That measure helped make college education accessible to all Americans without regard to race or economic status. Elliott lost his seat in 1964 because of his progressive views on race. Since he won the award, Carl Elliott has written a book on his experience in Congress, entitled “The Cost Of Courage: The Journey of an American Congressman.”
The silver lantern, designed by Edwin Schlossberg, Inc. and crafted by Tiffany & Co., represents the courage, truth and hope that reflect the values and ideals of the Profile in Courage Award.
The chairman of the Profile in Courage Award Committee is Richard K. Donahue, president of NIKE, Inc., and former special assistant to President Kennedy. Members of the committee include: Jill Ker Conway, history scholar and former president of Smith College; T. Jefferson Coolidge, Jr., businessman and president of Thomas Jefferson Forum; John C. Culver, attorney and former U.S. Representative and Senator from Iowa; Charles U. Daly, director of the Kennedy Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation and former special assistant to President Kennedy; John S. Dyson, chairman, Dyson-Sinclair Assoc. and former chairman of the New York Power Authority; Antonia Hernandez, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Elaine Jones, deputy director and counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Caroline B. Kennedy, attorney and president of the Kennedy Library Foundation; John Kennedy, Jr., attorney and vice-chairman of the Kennedy Library Foundation; Martin Luther King III, a Georgia county commissioner and board member of The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change; Paul G. Kirk Jr., attorney and chairman of the Kennedy Library Foundation; Sumner M. Redstone, CEO of National Amusements and chairman of Viacom International; John Seigenthaler, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean (Nashville) and chairman of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University; Theodore C. Sorensen, author, attorney, and former special counsel to President Kennedy; and Fletcher H. Wiley, attorney and director of the Kennedy Library Foundation.
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