Barnes and Ponder awarded for courage - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Barnes and Ponder awarded for courage

May 12, 2003

Albany- The Profiles in Courage Award is named for President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, which tells the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers to fight for what they believed in. Now 2 former Georgia lawmakers are honored for doing just that.

"The final thought that I had before I spoke was simply that if I don't do this I will always regret it for the rest of my life," says Former State Representative Dan Ponder, Jr.

One-time Georgia State Representative, Dan Ponder, Jr., reflects on his speech before the state legislature that led to the passage of Georgia's first hate-crimes legislation. A speech that not only recounts Ponder's deep Confederate heritage, but also his strength to overcome prejudiced ideals and embrace diversity.

"Though bigotry is a little more subtle these days it has different symbols, it has different ways of communicating itself, it's done in a more polite way, but it's still there," says Former Governor Roy Barnes.

Its with that thinking Former Governor Roy Barnes fought to change the former state flag. That decision may have divided the state, but earned Barnes a Profiles in Courage Award -an award that is given only to those willing to put their own popularity in the line and fight unpopular principles.

Former South Carolina Governor David Beasley was also honored for his stance on the Confederate flag. The award was created in 1989. Previous winners include President Gerald Ford and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Posted at 10:25 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com