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What is Civic Courage?

Read the winning essays from the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship.

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 term, 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:


Winner: Jeanette Williams: An Unstoppable Force by Leah Morgan

Runner-up: Pulling the Thread by Tali Chang-Hong Braester

Runner-up: Past the Stage of Patience: The Central District Youth Club and Seattle’s Movement for Civil Rights by Hannah Lindell-Smith


Winner: Ramona Bennett by Sonia Kamineni

Runner-up: Earl George: The Battle for Labor and Civil Rights by Cecelia Pyfer

Runner-up: Women Against Thirteen: Upholding Local Queer Rights by Anne Welman


Winner: The Fight for Food Justice (Rosalinda Guillen) by Sidra Wernli

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

Runner-up: The Environmental Activism of Hazel Wolf by Olivia Turner


Winner: Deborah “Tsi-Cy-Altsa” Parker by Julianna Folta

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

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


Winner: Cyrus Habib by Deborah Tesfay

Runner-up: Unity Transcends Barriers: Phil Hayasaka and the Unification of Asian Americans by Evelyn Chen

Runner-up: Fighting for the Original Seattleites by Della Floyd


Winner: The Gang of Four by Ruth Tedla

Runner-up: We are OneAmerica: Pramila Jayapal and the Protection of Immigrant Rights by Kristin Hong

Runner-up: The Island Amidst the Storm: The Story of Aki Kurose by Alex Huynh


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

Runner-up: Chief Leschi: The Story of a True American by Isabel Emery

Runner-up: Oil and Activists Don’t Mix: How Five Individuals Shut Down Five Pipelines by Sylvie Corwin


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

Runner-up: Seattle’s Forgotten Heroine of Unionization (Alice Lord) by Ankitha Doddanari

Runner-up: John Singer and Paul Barwick’s Selfless Pursuit of Marriage Equality by Kristin M. Hayman


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

Runner-up: The Four Amigos: Uniting Cultures and Crossing Boundaries by Luisa Moreno

Runner-up: A Legacy of Justice (Takuji Yamashita) by Sarah Tocher


Winner: Preserve Our Islands’ Fight to Protect Maury Island by Natalie Quek

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

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


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

Runner-up: An (Extra)Ordinary Woman (Margarethe Cammermeyer) by Alana Mabrito

Runner-up: Civic Courage: The Stories That Should Be Told (Alice Lord) by Jasmine Shirey

Runner-up: Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi by Connie Mei

Runner-up: The Spark in One, the Voices of Many (Bernie Whitebear) by Aliha Strange

Runner-up: Jon Greenberg: A Civic Hero Inspiring Civic Heroes by Elena Carter