BOSTON (AP) — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who stood behind his decision to take down four Confederate monuments despite legal challenges and outright threats from those who said the Confederacy is an important part of the city’s heritage, was named the 2018 winner of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on Tuesday.
“Mayor Landrieu turned a difficult and divisive issue into an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history and to recommit ourselves to our founding principles of equality and justice,” President Kennedy’s grandson, Jack Schlossberg, said in a statement.
The award has been presented by The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation annually since 1989 to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. It is named for Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Profiles in Courage.”
“I am so humbled and honored to receive the JFK Library Profile In Courage Award,” the Democratic Landrieu posted on Twitter. “My sincerest gratitude to Jack, the Kennedy Family and the committee for selecting me.”
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Schlossberg is scheduled to present the award at a ceremony on May 20 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
Landrieu, who is leaving office this spring because of term limits, called for removing the monuments in the aftermath of the 2015 massacre of nine black parishioners at a South Carolina church.
He secured city council support to remove statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, and one dedicated to those who opposed Reconstruction. The monuments were removed in the middle of the night to protect contractors who received death threats, and in one case had a car firebombed.
The last of the monuments was removed in May.
“These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for,” Landrieu said at the time.
The Profile in Courage Award is represented by a sterling silver lantern symbolizing a beacon of hope. Previous recipients include former presidents Barack Obama, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush; U.S. Sen. John McCain; and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
The recipients are selected by a bipartisan committee of national, political, and community leaders.