2005 Profile in Courage Award Recipient Shirley Franklin became Mayor of Atlanta in 2001, having never before run for public office. She inherited an $82 million budget deficit – about a fifth of the city’s total budget – and a crisis of confidence in the public management of the city. Atlanta’s sewer system needed immediate and massive repairs, and its homeless population was growing at an alarming rate. While many cities were struggling with budget deficits and other problems, Atlanta’s woes were known to be among the most daunting.
Instead of blaming her predecessor or glossing over the depth of the crisis, Franklin responded by leveling with Atlantans about the extent of the city’s problems, and asked everyone to bear the burden of solving them. She raised property taxes nearly 50%, slashed city services and eliminated 1,000 jobs from the city payroll, cut her own staff and salary, and imposed the strictest code of ethics for public employees anywhere in the state.
To deal with the sewer crisis, she asked for a threefold hike in city sewer fees, forged unlikely alliances with skeptical state leaders and the business community, and in an economy that was straining to recover from the dot-com bust, she convinced the Atlanta electorate to vote in favor of a hike in the sales tax. Then, two years into her term, she asked for another property tax hike.
Any one of these actions might have been a career-ending political risk for a newly-elected office holder. But Franklin’s blunt insistence upon fiscal solvency and her unblinking acceptance of the political risks of her decisions were instead met with cheers. Her popularity soared. “People want someone who’ll just tell it like it is,” she said in a media interview.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin & Former Texas Senator Bill Ratliff
Named 2005 Profile in Courage Award Recipients
Army Specialist Joseph Darby to Receive Special Award
BOSTON (March 10, 2005) - Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and Former Texas State Senator Bill Ratliff have been named the recipients of the 2005 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, it was announced today by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
Shirley Franklin, the first African American woman to serve as mayor of a major U.S. southern city, 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 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 Lt. 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 and democratic 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. Ratliff largely wrote and secured passage of landmark education legislation. He also 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 Specialist Joseph M. Darby has been awarded a Special John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Darby is recognized for standing up for the principles imbedded in the rule of law when he took action to expose the torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. The Profile in Courage Award Committee recognized that although the courage demonstrated by Darby was somewhat different than that required by elective office, it was nonetheless deserving of recognition.
Franklin, Ratliff and Darby will be formally presented with the Profile in Courage Award by Caroline Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Monday, May 16.
"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," said Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. "Not only has Franklin restored fiscal stability to her city, she has restored trust and confidence in government as well. Bill Ratliff showed great courage when he put his long and distinguished career of service at risk for the principle of fair and democratic elections which are the heart and soul of a successful democracy. Each has demonstrated political courage worthy of our gratitude."
Of Darby's recognition, Ms. Kennedy said, "Individuals who are willing to take personal risk to further the national interest and uphold the values of American democracy should be recognized and encouraged in all parts of government. Our nation is indebted to U.S. Army Specialist Joseph Darby for standing up for the rule of law that we embrace as a nation."
It was announced earlier this week that Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko will be presented with a 2005 Profile in Courage Award at a separate ceremony hosted by Ms. Kennedy and Senator Kennedy in early April when Yushchenko visits the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. The award is named for President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of American statesmen, the obstacles they faced, and the special valor they demonstrated despite the risks.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989 to honor President Kennedy's commitment and contribution to public service. It is presented in May in celebration of President Kennedy's May 29th birthday.
Described by one recipient as the "Nobel in Government," the Profile in Courage Award is represented by a sterling-silver lantern symbolizing a beacon of hope. The lantern was designed by Edwin Schlossberg and crafted by Tiffany & Co.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin
Shirley Franklin is the first African American woman to serve as mayor of a major southern city. When Franklin took office in 2001, Atlanta was burdened by an $82 million budget deficit, a festering sewer crisis, and the public distrust of an electorate that had grown weary of the deeds and misdeeds of its elected leadership. Franklin responded to the city's budget shortfall by slashing 1000 city jobs and pressing the City Council into passing a 50% property tax increase. She also cut her own salary and staff, and implemented the strictest ethics rules in the state to counter the swelling official corruption that had plagued her predecessor. In 2003, she requested another tax hike to meet city expenses and to pay for sewer repairs to an outdated sewer system overflowing into local rivers. To address the century-old neglected sewer system, Franklin formed an unprecedented alliance between state and local officials, eventually negotiating a $500 million state loan that had initially been rejected by the Georgia Senate. Although she has taken several measures that many politicians would see as career-ending, Franklin has remained remarkably popular among Atlanta voters, who find her candor and straight-shooting calls for burden-sharing a welcome and refreshing change.
Former Texas State Senator Bill Ratliff
Senator Ratliff has five times made Texas Monthly magazine's prestigious "Best Legislators" roundup since coming to the Legislature in 1989. As Chair of the Texas Senate Education Committee, he secured passage of a controversial law dubbed "Robin Hood" by its opponents. This bill redistributed a percentage of property taxes from wealthy school districts to poorer ones. During his third legislative session, he completely rewrote Texas' outdated public education code on his laptop computer. Later as chair of the powerful finance committee, he twice oversaw the state's $100 billion-plus budget. During his 2001 legislative session, many attributed the spirit of civility directly to the new Lieutenant Governor's calm and inclusive leadership style. Among the most recent session's achievements were much needed schoolteachers' health insurance plan and easier access to Medicaid.
When Texas Republicans announced plans to draw new district lines in Texas for the second time since the 2000 census, Senator Ratliff broke ranks with his party and opposed the redistricting plan. As the sole dissenting Republican, Ratliff nearly derailed his party's efforts to pass it. Ratliff's vote denied the GOP the two-thirds majority it needed to carry out the plan. But Ratliff's action led Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to abandon the two-thirds rule, which prompted eleven Democrats to flee the state to New Mexico, where they remained for weeks in order to deprive Senate Republicans of a quorum.
Anticipating Dewhurst's decision, Ratliff said, "It is a serious mistake, because if that should happen, the Texas legislature will slide down that slope of a completely partisan operation on both sides." Four months after the standoff ended, Ratliff announced his resignation, and he requested a special election to fill his seat two years before his term expired. The GOP eventually won the battle to draw new district lines.
U.S. Army Specialist Joseph M. Darby
U.S. Army Specialist Joseph M. Darby, of Corriganville, Md., is credited with alerting officials to the alleged torture of Iraqi prisoners by members of his 372nd Military Police Company, based in Cumberland, Md. Darby was commended in a military report for promptly alerting superiors in January after discovering photographs of fellow 372nd Military Police Company personnel taking part in abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Darby's tip led to an investigation of practices at the facility that have outraged people around the world and changed the tenor of America's war effort in Iraq. Darby wrestled with the consequences of reporting the abuse in Abu Ghraib and finally spoke out, he said, because what he saw was so "morally wrong." In August 2004, Darby and his family were forced to move out of their Maryland home and into protective custody due to death threats against them.
Darby's wife, Bernadette, says her husband's act of whistle blowing angered many people in their Western Maryland community. "People were mean, saying he was a walking dead man, he was walking around with a bull's eye on his head. It was scary," she told Reuters. Despite the threats, she believed her husband made the right choice exposing the torture and abuse. "Joe is the type of person to take what is going on around him and be like, 'How would I feel if that was my wife?'... He just could not live with himself knowing that that was happening and he did not do anything about it," she said.
Franklin, Ratliff, Darby and Yushchenko were chosen as the recipients of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's prestigious award for political courage by a distinguished bipartisan committee of national, political, and community leaders. John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, chairs the fourteen-member Profile in Courage Award Committee. 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.
In selecting a recipient, the Profile in Courage Award Committee considers public servants who have demonstrated the kind of political courage described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Kennedy wrote:
In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience - the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men - each man must decide for himself the course he will follow. The stories of past courage can define that ingredient - they can teach, they can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.
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.
Press contact: Tom McNaught (617) 514-1656
To Caroline Kennedy, Senator Edward Kennedy, the Kennedy family, trustees of the Foundation, thank you for this truly special honor. I am humbled to be included with the other honorees, Senator Bill Ratliff and U. S. Army Specialist Joseph M. Darby.
I join Congressman John Lewis, Governor Roy Barnes and State Representative Dan Ponder as the fourth Georgian to receive the Profile in Courage Award. They set a high bar for public service. Representative Ponder is here today, as is Mayor Sam Massell.
I would like to recognize my mother and my aunts, who along with my father and grandparents are more responsible than anyone for me standing before you today.
The friendship and steadfast support of my children, my Atlanta colleagues and friends have carried me through the good days and the challenging days.
I am an accidental politician, an unintentional Mayor.
I grew up in Philadelphia. I came South to teach at Talladega College in Alabama, and found my way to Atlanta, Georgia some thirty years ago.
I spent the bulk of my professional career in public service, working behind the scenes for two very special individuals, Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson. They taught me how to be a leader, to follow my conscience, to act with foresight and courage. They were, and they are, my inspiration.
Five years ago an election for Mayor was near. I was 55 years old and had no interest in running for political office. Andy and Maynard, however, saw things differently. They told me it was my duty to run, it was my duty to serve. For all of you who know Andy and knew Maynard, it is impossible to say no to them.
When I was elected, I still did not quite know what was in store for me.
After my first budget briefing I was reminded of the quote by John Kennedy upon his election as President: “When we got into office, the thing that surprised me most was to find that things were just as bad as we’d been saying they were.”
In actuality, I found things were worse than we’d been saying they were.
The city faced a 20% budget gap, a dilapidated and underfunded water and sewer system and hundreds of dispirited employees. But with hard work and persistence, we balanced the budget and funded the $3 billion water infrastructure.
I reached out to all of Atlanta
•Republicans and Democrats,
•business and labor,
•city and suburbs,
•African-Americans, whites and latinos;
we did it working together.
I would not be here today if I had not been inspired by others.
Growing up in Philadelphia, my inspiration came from my church, and especially the preacher’s sermons, His message was clear – we are called to do God’s work on earth. Reverend Jesse Anderson sparked my interest in social and economic justice for people of color, the poor and the oppressed around the world. He inspired me to care about others all the time, Not just when it is convenient or easy to do.
As a teenager, I was inspired by President John F. Kennedy.
I was in high school when he was elected. He changed our whole generation with his call for sacrifice, boldness, optimism and equality; a belief that we can reach the moon both literally and figuratively. He inspired me to work harder and to reach higher.
In his civil rights address to the country, the President said, “I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience . . . This Nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
While Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson taught me how to serve, a decade or so earlier President Kennedy inspired me to choose a public service career.
The civil rights movement was in full gear as I became an adult. The fearless and moral leadership of the movement, caused me to examine my life and how I could contribute.
My mother and aunts insisted the family march together for the March on Washington. To this day I remember the excitement of walking through the streets of the nation’s capital with them. We joined thousands of other marchers. I remember the spirit of unity I felt. John Lewis and Martin King stand out in my memory.
Lewis was so young yet powerful… inspiring me as a young person to act rather than to watch and wait. And Martin King offered a message of hope, reconciliation, and a vision for America.
His life exemplifies believing in something so much you are willing to sacrifice everything. He committed everything he had to the movement for human rights, to end oppression, racism, hatred and hopelessness.
Martin King’s life and legacy inspire me to act with conviction. His dream for a just America rings true today.
The Yoruba teach, “If we stand tall, it is because we stand on the backs of those who came before us.” Remarkable men and women Martin, Andy, Maynard, John Kennedy, Susan B. Anthony, Mary McCloud Bethune, Madame C. J. Walker and Harriet Tubman were visionary, determined and courageous in the face of losing odds. I stand here because others sacrificed that I might have a better life.
My commitment to honesty and integrity as mayor is shaped by their lives and contributions.
And it is by God’s grace that I have been given the opportunity to serve as mayor of Atlanta and I am determined to do my very best in that service.
Caroline, I thank you for your leadership in telling our stories of public service. And I pray my endeavors live up to this great honor.
Remarks of the Honorable Shirley Franklin, Mayor of Atlanta, delivered at the 2005 Profile in Courage Award Ceremony, May 16, 2005.
Thank you John (Seigenthaler) for that very generous introduction. John is a valued friend to all the members of the Kennedy family and an outstanding journalist as well. We are particularly grateful for his remarkable service to the Kennedy Library as the Chairman of the Profile In Courage Awards Committee. He plays a vital role in helping to find the consensus that leads to the choice of the courageous winners we honor here today.
The annual Profile In Courage Award was instituted more than a decade ago by the Kennedy Library Foundation as a memorial to my brother and as a way to encourage contemporary political leaders to be more willing to take on the tough issues, and to demonstrate the quality of political courage, that my brother so admired and which is all too rare in public life today.
Courageous actions worthy of recognition do not always happen within the borders of our own nation. As you saw in the film, we were privileged to have President Viktor Yushchenko here at the Library last month to present with the Award.
At a critical moment in his nation's history, President Yushchenko took a strong and courageous stand for what he knew was right. In the ongoing struggle for democracy in Ukraine, he risked his life and nearly lost it. Because of his extraordinary courage, and the courage of the Ukrainian people, the rule of law prevailed. President Yushchenko is an inspiration to all people everywhere and the Library was proud to honor him.
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. 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.
Today, the Library is very proud to present a special Profile in Courage Award to a young soldier, who while stationed in Iraq, acted on the simple profound truth -- that torture is wrong. Sergeant Joseph Darby unexpectedly discovered photographs of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in the digital camera of a fellow soldier who had taken photos of their tour of duty. He was stunned at what he saw and wrestled with his conscience. He decided the only moral course of action was to report the abuses to his superiors and give them the photos.
His courageous action ignited a firestorm when the shocking images became public. The photographs of cruelty and perversion are still difficult to look at, and they belied the administration's contention that Saddam Hussein's "torture rooms had been closed forever." The images horrified us and severely damaged our reputation around the world. They undermined the validity of the military's "golden rule" - to treat captured enemy forces, as we would want our own troops to be treated. The photographs are now seared into our national memory and the firestorm still rages about the accountability for those abuses.
The FBI, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the British all refused to participate in the interrogations, because of their grave concerns about the brutal methods. Reports to our senior military officials by the International Committee of the Red Cross, about inhumane treatment of Iraqis, were ignored.
It was Joseph Darby who spoke out when others looked the other way. He spoke out even knowing that he would be harassed -- or worse -- for doing so, and he has paid a high price. Because of the threats they received, he and his wife have been moved into protective custody - all because he followed his conscience and said the interrogations were unacceptable.
Like most Americans, Sergeant Darby believes that an essential part of protecting our nation and winning the war on terrorism is safeguarding the ideals that America stands for at home and around the world. Joseph Darby courageously refused to remain silent, and in so doing he embodied the best of our American values when he said "enough" at Abu Ghraib. He is a true Profile in Courage.
Mayor Shirley Franklin was faced with an 82 million dollar deficit and a city whose infrastructure had been neglected to the point that federal environmental agencies had levied fines against Atlanta to the tune of 20 thousand dollars a day. The top officials of the previous administration were awaiting trial on corruption and the trust of the people had been broken. When she was elected the first African American woman to be mayor of a southern city in the United States, she had her work cut out for her.
Mayor Franklin knew she had to regain the confidence of her constituents, stop the decay and restore the fiscal sanity of her beloved city. Her solution was tough love, straight talk, and bold action. She asked for sacrifice from all and she included herself. While cutting the city payroll and implementing new taxes, she shared the pain by cutting her own salary by 40 thousand dollars.
The city was in trouble and homelessness had become an epidemic. Mayor Franklin set out to give Atlanta her own New Deal. She convinced the city council to pass the needed taxes, and enact a new code of ethics for city employees. She talked private firms into conducting audits for free and made them public so everyone would know the difficulties and what needed to be done.
In a brilliant display of bipartisan negotiation, she worked with state and county officials to create a combination of loans and agreements that produced 3 billion dollars to fun the essential repairs that had been needed for so long.
Now after just three years in office she has produced not only three balanced budgets -- but also this year an 18 million dollar surplus! A new 5 million dollar shelter for the homeless will open this summer. No wonder her polls are sky-high!
In being able to convince Republican state officials and the business community to work with her on behalf of the city, she achieved success. She did so by proving she was serious about meeting them half way. I wonder if we could borrow her, for just a little while, to help bring Washington back from the brink!
Mayor Shirley Franklin is a public official who beat the odds, and we in public service are in awe of her outstanding achievements and the great courage she had to see them through.
Senator Bill Ratliff has had a most distinguished career in the state legislature in Austin. He was at the center of historic legislation on education, and at various times chaired the three most important committees - Finance, State Affairs, and Education. For six years in a row, he was regularly recognized as one of the very best legislators by the local media. He had even been chosen by his fellow Senators to be Lieutenant Governor, when George Bush went on to other things.
Senator Ratliff's wisdom and integrity were so admired and respected that he was called the conscience of the Senate and given a nickname that would greatly impress my grandchildren….Obi-Wan Kenobi.
It is not unusual for the Profile in Courage Award to be given to a Republican, but it's rare indeed that we have the opportunity to honor a Jedi knight!
With this extraordinary background and reputation, Senator Ratliff made the most difficult decision, and found the greatest challenge, of his public life. He is a man of high principle who courageously risked the wrath of his fellow Republican legislators where it's probably the most difficult of all to do - deep in the heart of Texas.
After his term as Lt. Governor, Senator Ratliff returned to a state Senate that had become more partisan and had fewer experienced legislators. As gifted as he was at writing and handling complex legislation, it was more difficult than ever to weigh competing arguments and reach successful compromised.
A boiling point was reached on the issue of redistricting, often the most difficult matter of all. He warned his party leaders that a partisan effort could cause bitter division and lasting outrage, but Governor Perry called the Legislature into three successive special sessions to gerrymander the boundaries of the legislative districts to lock in the election of more Republicans.
Outraged Democratic Senators left the state to prevent a quorum, but in the end the redistricting bill was passed. To his everlasting credit, Bill Ratliff dared to stand alone and vote for principle. In fact, his vote had prevented the gerrymander from being passed in the first special session. Senator Ratliff felt that the whole process was deeply wrong, and he felt he could no longer, in good conscience, be a part of it.
He had always voted as a matter of principle, but now felt that it was time, before the end of his term, for him to resign as a matter of principle. Newspapers across the state praised his service and mourned his departure.
In his farewell speech, Senator Ratliff took the high road and thanked his constituents for the privilege of serving them for fifteen exceptional years as a legislator.
John Quincy Adams, whose seat I hold today in the Senate, once said, "Always vote for a principle, though you vote alone, and you may cherish the sweet reflection that your vote is never lost." Senator Bill Ratliff is a magnificent example of the kind of extraordinary courage that President Kennedy and President Adams admired, and we are proud to honor him today.
It is now my special pleasure to introduce Caroline, who continues to inspire us with her excellent leadership here at the Library. I know her parents would be so proud of all she has accomplished. Caroline is a great joy to all of us in the Kennedy family, and in so many ways, she is the moving force behind the annual Profile in Courage Awards.
Ladies and gentlemen, Caroline Kennedy.
Remarks of Senator Edward M. Kennedy delivered at the 2005 Profile in Courage Award Ceremony, Monday, May 16, 2005.