BOSTON – The flag that may have cost former Gov. Roy Barnes (search) his job no longer flies over the Georgia state capital.
But Barnes is still being honored for his courage in pushing for the removal of the Confederate emblem from the Georgia state flag.
Barnes is one of three politicians being honored Monday by the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum with the Profile in Courage Award (search).
The other recipients are former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley (search), who was also forced from office following a Confederate flag controversy, and former Georgia state Rep. Dan Ponder Jr., a conservative Republican who made an impassioned plea for hate-crime legislation in his state.
The Kennedy library gives the awards annually to those who defend unpopular principles.
Barnes, a Democrat, was voted out of office in 2002 after he pushed through changes to his state's flag, which had been dominated by the Confederate emblem since 1956. The new flag reduced the emblem to a small insignia.
But that flag proved unpopular, and a new state flag with no Confederate element was raised over the Capitol last week. Georgia voters will pick between the new flag and the 2001 flag in a referendum next March, and few give the old flag a chance to win.
During the 2002 election, so-called "flaggers" followed Barnes to every campaign stop waving the rebel "X" and calling him a turncoat.
Barnes lost to Republican Sonny Perdue (search) last November. Even at his going-away dinner in early January, flaggers showed up with bullhorns and a giant rat head on a spike to taunt Barnes and his supporters.
"I could not run from the issue," he said. "I knew there was a high likelihood I would be defeated because of it, but I'd do it again. It was the right thing to do."
Beasley angered South Carolina conservatives by proposing to move the Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse to a nearby monument. The legislation failed.
Beasley later blamed the flag issue for his 1998 defeat by Democrat Jim Hodges. Two years later the legislature voted to move the flag.
"You do what's right because that is in itself sufficient," Beasley once told The Associated Press. "I don't think you ever look for vindication. You do what's right and let it speak for itself."
Ponder, a conservative Republican whose ancestors owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy, made an impassioned plea for hate-crime legislation in his state in March 2000.
Ponder delivered an impassioned speech, recounting his shame over a childhood rejection of his black housekeeper. He received two standing ovations, and the measure passed overwhelmingly. He gave the speech just days before his retirement from the legislature.
Past recipients of the Profile in Courage Award include former President Gerald Ford, U.S. Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, and America's public servants who responded to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The award takes its name from President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage. The Kennedy Library Foundation created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989.