What is Civic Courage?

What is Civic Courage?

Civic Courage is when an individual or group of individuals act, advocate, organize or lead on an issue of importance to the community at great personal, political, or professional risk. These individuals may not necessarily prevail in the short run, but their courageous actions guide our community toward better values and greater equity.

Perhaps the best way to define civic courage is by telling the stories of those individuals who best exemplified it in their lives. Take inspiration from the subjects of the past winning essays:


1. The Fight for Food Justice (Rosalinda Guillen) by Sidra Wernli

2. Florestine “Flo” Ware (1912-1981): A Community-Minded Change-Maker by Marysia Koltonowska

3. The Environmental Activism of Hazel Wolf by Olivia Turner


1. Deborah “Tsi-Cy-Altsa” Parker by Julianna Folta

2. How a Nisqually Icon Freed the River and Inspired Generations of Activism (Billy Frank Jr.) by Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce

3. The Flap of a Wing, the Overhaul of a City: Seattle’s First Asian American Councilman (Wing Luke) by Taylor Yingshi


1. Cyrus Habib by Deborah Tesfay

2. Unity Transcends Barriers: Phil Hayasaka and the Unification of Asian Americans by Evelyn Chen

3. Fighting for the Original Seattleites by Della Floyd


1. The Gang of Four by Ruth Tedla

2. We are OneAmerica: Pramila Jayapal and the Protection of Immigrant Rights by Kristin Hong

3. The Island Amidst the Storm: The Story of Akiko Kurose by Alex Huynh


1. Hear Me Out: Maru Mora-Villalpando, the Deportation Machine, and the Universal Meaning of Liberation by Sophia Carey

2. Chief Leschi: The Story of a True American by Isabel Emery

3. Oil and Activists Don’t Mix: How Five Individuals Shut Down Five Pipelines by Sylvie Corwin


1. Kneeling for a Nation: How One Team’s Participation in a Nationwide Movement Developed into a Force for Local Civic Change by Duncan King

2. Seattle’s Forgotten Heroine of Unionization (Alice Lord) by Ankitha Doddanari

3. John Singer and Paul Barwick’s Selfless Pursuit of Marriage Equality by Kristin M. Hayman


1. In Search of a Home: The Fight for Open Housing in Seattle by Ellis Magotswe Simani

2. The Four Amigos: Uniting Cultures and Crossing Boundaries by Luisa Moreno

3. A Legacy of Justice (Takuji Yamashita) by Sarah Tocher


1. Preserve Our Islands’ Fight to Protect Maury Island by Natalie Quek

2. Reviving an Ancient Whaling Tradition in the Face of Discrimination: Cultural Courage by the Makah Tribe by Lena Easton-Calabria

3. Washington State’s Greatest Civil Rights Advocate (Nettie J. Asberry) by Noah Foster-Koth


1. A Culture Lost and Found: Bernie Whitebear and the Seattle Urban Indian Community by Quinn Buchwald

2. An (Extra)Ordinary Woman (Margarethe Cammermeyer) by Alana Mabrito

3. Civic Courage: The Stories That Should Be Told (Alice Lord) by Jasmine Shirey

4. Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi by Connie Mei

5. The Spark in One, the Voices of Many (Bernie Whitebear) by Aliha Strange

6. Jon Greenberg: A Civic Hero Inspiring Civic Heroes by Elena Carter