The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award was created in 1989 by members of President Kennedy’s family to honor President John F. Kennedy and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he admired most.
The award recognizes a public official (or officials) at the federal, state or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good.
The award is presented each May at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in connection with the observance of President Kennedy’s birthday on May 29.
The Profile in Courage Award is administered by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. A distinguished bipartisan committee named by the Foundation reviews all nominations, and selects the recipient or recipients of the award.
Letter from Ambassador Caroline Kennedy
Next year will mark the Centennial of my father’s birth, and although his time is becoming part of history, his words, his example, and his spirit remain as vital as ever.
One way that we connect past and present is through the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. By honoring individuals who act on principle without regard for the personal consequences, we honor the quality that my father most admired in public life – courage.
Each year in May, when the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation gives this award in his name, it reaffirms my faith in democracy, and in the people who serve at all levels of government on both sides of the aisle. And each year, we rely on your help to find inspiring examples of modern-day elected officials in federal, state or local office who have chosen to govern for the greater good, even when it meant taking an unpopular stand or offending powerful groups.
Since 1989, the Kennedy Library Foundation has given the Profile in Courage Award to almost 50 public servants, including Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis; former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis for her work as a California State Senator championing environmental justice for disenfranchised minorities; and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy for courageously defending the U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees. Those who are honored with the award come from all walks of life, but they share a common quality: they took a stand for the public interest, instead of doing what was politically convenient.
Do you know an elected official who should be recognized for an act of courage? Submit their name for consideration for the 2017 Profile in Courage Award.
Ambassador Caroline Kennedy
John F. Kennedy Library Foundation