It was fitting that Wael Ghonim used his iPad to give his speech yesterday as a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award recipient.
The 30-year-old Google executive used Facebook and other social media to urge Egyptians to launch their own pro-democracy protests the recent demonstrations in Tunisia. The call helped spur the Arab Spring and brought revolution to Egypt, which ultimately led to the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.
But the historic award wasn’t meant solely for Ghonim. It was awarded to him “in the name of the people of Egypt.”
“Wael’s single act provided the spark for countless others, and a movement began to build,” said JFK Library Foundation President Caroline Kennedy. “Wael was one of those captured by Egyptian police. But the voices of Wael and his countrymen and -women would not be silenced.”
His words continued to spark excitement during yesterday’s ceremony inside the Kennedy Library.
As Ghonim started to speak, a group of people stood up holding the Egyptian flag and cheered.
“We’re just very excited to be a part of this generation and we’re looking forward to a great future for our country,” said Harvard employee Ahmed Mady.
NC school official honored
Also given a Profile in Courage award yesterday was Elizabeth Redenbaugh, a member of the New Hanover County school board in North Carolina.
Redenbaugh was the only Republican and only white member of the board to oppose a plan for a new school district map that would send children to schools closest to their homes, concentrating poor children in just one or two schools.
The plan ultimately passed by a 4-3 vote.