John F Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage, an account of people who stood up for their convictions despite public opinion or harsh criticism. Since 1990, the JFK Profile in Courage Award, named for the book, has been given to individuals who acted in accordance with their conscience, even if it meant putting their careers or lives in jeopardy, to pursue a larger vision of national, state, or local interest, despite popular opinion or external pressures. The most recent recipient of the award is Google executive Wael Ghonim, who became a face of the pro-democracy uprising in Egypt.
Ghonim will be receiving the award alongside Elizabeth Redenbaugh, a New Hanover County, North Carolina School Board member, who opposed school redistricting plans that she believed were segregationist. Caroline Kennedy, who announced the award, said, “From a small county school district in North Carolina to Tahrir Square in Cairo, this year’s Profile in Courage honorees show us the importance of individual acts of conscience.”
Ghonim helped popularize the uprising through his Facebook and Twitter accounts, but was soon arrested by Egyptian authorities. He spent several weeks in jail, where he was apparently beaten, but international pressure eventually led to his release. Hours later, he was back in Tahrir Square, protesting against the Egyptian regime.