2005 Profile in Courage Awards

For Immediate Release: May 16, 2005
Further information: Brent R. Carney (617) 514-1662, Brent.Carney@JFKLFoundation.org

Boston, MA – Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Former Texas State Senator Bill Ratliff received the 2005 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award today at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. A special Profile in Courage Award was also presented to United States Army Sergeant Joseph Darby.

"My father most admired those in public life who had the courage to make decisions of conscience without regard for the consequences," said Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. "Shirley Franklin and Bill Ratliff are an inspiration to all who serve in government, and to all Americans, for their principled and bipartisan leadership, and their willingness to make the difficult and unpopular decisions necessary for good governance. Our nation is also indebted to U.S. Army Sergeant Joseph Darby who, despite great personal risk, stood up for the rule of law and exposed the torture and scandal in Iraq. In a time when politics and government have been marked by incivility and partisanship, these individuals have distinguished themselves by their political and moral courage and by their vision of what was right for the country."

"This year’s winners continue to remind us that courageous individuals, acting on principle, can make an extraordinary difference for their communities and our country," said Senator Kennedy. "In this era of intense partisan divisions, it is most heartening and inspiring to pay tribute to the political courage of Mayor Franklin, Senator Ratliff, and Sergeant Darby, who chose first and foremost to act for the good of their community and country. President Kennedy would be proud of them."

Presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or political consequences, the award is named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer-Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage. The book recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators in American history who withstood strong opposition and risked their careers to fight for what they believed was the right course of action.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, the first woman to serve as mayor of Atlanta, was recognized for her courageous leadership in restoring fiscal stability and ethical government to Atlanta. Facing an $82 million deficit upon taking office in

2001, Mayor Franklin, a Democrat, formed an unprecedented alliance between Republicans, the business community and state government, raised taxes, cut the city payroll, and imposed a strict code of ethics. Four years later, Atlanta enjoys a budget surplus.

Bill Ratliff, former Texas lieutenant governor and state senator, was honored for a distinguished career as a courageous bipartisan leader in his state. Senator Ratliff’s most recent act of courage was to fight for a fair electoral process, becoming the only Republican legislator to object to his party’s redistricting plan. This principled action was the culmination of a distinguished career in Texas politics. Senator Ratliff also largely wrote and secured passage of landmark education legislation, and worked to improve health insurance and access to Medicaid, while maintaining an inclusive style of governing in an era of sharp partisan politics.

U.S. Army Sergeant Joseph M. Darby was awarded a Special John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for standing up for the rule of law as a soldier serving with the 372nd Military Police Company in Iraq. Darby turned in photographs to Army investigators depicting members of his unit taking part in the torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. His decision to alert Army investigators to the abuse triggered a formal, and still ongoing, examination of the government’s interrogation policy. Subsequent media reports and the publication of the photos sparked worldwide outrage.

Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko was presented with a 2005 Profile in Courage Award at a separate ceremony hosted by Ms. Kennedy and Senator Kennedy on April 5th, when he visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

Described by one recipient as the "Nobel in government," the Profile in Courage Award is accompanied by a sterling-silver lantern representing a beacon of hope. The lantern was designed by Edwin Schlossberg and crafted by Tiffany and Co.

Profile in Courage Award recipients were selected by a distinguished, bipartisan committee chaired by John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. Committee members are Michael Beschloss, author and presidential historian; David Burke, former president of CBS News; U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi); Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Antonia Hernandez, president and chief executive officer of the California Community Foundation; Al Hunt, Washington managing editor of Bloomberg News; U.S. Representative Nancy Johnson (R-Connecticut); Elaine Jones, former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Caroline Kennedy, president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts); Paul G. Kirk, Jr., chairman of the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine); and Patricia M. Wald, former judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. John Shattuck, chief executive officer of the Kennedy Library Foundation, staffs the Committee. Mr. Shattuck is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Past recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award are Afghan physician and human rights activist Dr. Sima Samar; former North Carolina State Representative Cindy Watson; former Oklahoma State Senator Paul Muegge; former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes; former South Carolina Governor David Beasley; former Georgia State Representative Dan Ponder, Jr.; United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan; former Palos Heights, Illinois, Mayor Dean Koldenhoven; former U.S. President Gerald Ford; former California State Senator Hilda Solis; U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona; U.S. Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin; Garfield County, Montana Attorney Nickolas Murnion; Circuit Court Judge of Montgomery County, Alabama Charles Price; former Calhoun County, Georgia School Superintendent Corkin Cherubini; former U.S. Congressman Michael Synar of Oklahoma; U.S. Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas; former New Jersey Governor James Florio; former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker, Jr.; former U.S. Congressman Charles Weltner of Georgia; and former U.S. Congressman Carl Elliott, Sr. of Alabama.

Special Profile in Courage Awards have been presented to the Irish Peacemakers, eight political leaders of Northern Ireland and the American chairman of the peace talks, in recognition of the extraordinary political courage they demonstrated in negotiating the historic Good Friday Peace Agreement and America’s public servants who demonstrated extraordinary courage and heroism in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement has also been presented to U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.