In 1994, Holocaust Museum Houston established the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in memory of the 36th president of the United States.
"Moral Courage" refers to that single act, or lifetime of behavior, that depends on a certain resolve. In 1938, as a congressman, Johnson worked tirelessly to provide American sanctuary, and virtually a new life, to forty-three, and perhaps several hundred more, threatened European Jews. Johnson did so by stretching the limits of his authority to the utmost and risking the personal dreams his actions might shatter. President Johnson continued his extraordinary efforts throughout his career on behalf of minorities, the aged and the young. Recipients of this award are individuals who, like Johnson, exhibit moral courage, individual responsibility and the willingness to take action against injustice.
The 2015 dinner honored diplomats Dr. Feng Shan Ho, the Chinese consul in Vienna, and Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese vice consul in Lithuania, both of whom defied their government's orders and issued life-saving visas to thousands of European Jews threatened by the horrors of the Holocaust.
1995 Ben Love
Retired Chairman and CEO (1972-1989), Texas Commerce Banks.
As an Air Force pilot in World War II, Ben Love witnessed the atrocities and horrors of the Holocaust and committed his life to serving as an advocate for Holocaust education.
1996 Miep Gies
Former bookkeeper for the Otto Frank Family and Righteous Rescuer.
Miep Gies was honored for risking her life daily to provide sustenance and support for Anne Frank and seven others during their two years in hiding.
1996 Nathan Klein (Awarded Posthumously)
Member of the Houston Jewish Community.
Nathan Klein saved the lives of many European Jews by quietly sponsoring their admission to the United States so they could escape Nazi-occupied Europe.
1997 Edgar M. Bronfman
Chairman of the Seagram Company, Ltd.
Edgar Bronfman is president of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which is devoted to ensuring the return of Jewish property stolen by the Nazis.
1998 Steven Spielberg
Partner of Dreamworks, SKG.
Steven Spielberg heightened Holocaust awareness across the globe with his movie “Schindler’s List.” His continued devotion to Holocaust education led to creation of the Righteous Persons Foundation and the Shoah Foundation.
2000 Colin L. Powell
Secretary of State and Retired General.
Colin Powell has made significant contributions both as one of our nation’s most outstanding military leaders and as an advocate for America’s youth.
2001 Lloyd Bentsen, Jr.
United States Senator and World War II Veteran.
Lloyd Benson, Jr., was honored for his bravery and leadership as a soldier in World War II and for his service to humanity throughout his political career.
Journalist, Humanitarian and Activist.
Dr. Ruth Gruber received a special fifth-anniversary award for saving 1,000 refugees from the Nazis in 1944.
2002 Bob Dole
United States Senator, 1996 Presidential Candidate, World War II Veteran.
Bob Dole was honored for his courage on the battlefield during World War II and his advocacy for the disadvantaged and Americans with disabilities.
2004 Kingdom of Denmark
In 1943, after learning of an imminent German action to deport Danish Jews, Denmark’s government and general population took part in a massive boatlift that delivered Jews to a neutral haven in Sweden.
2005 President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Awarded Posthumously)
Dwight Eisenhower has been celebrated for his tactical and strategic abilities in executing Allied landings on D-Day and for his insistence that evidence of the Holocaust be witnessed and recorded.
Bob Hope (Patriot Award, Awarded Posthumously)
Bob Hope’s unwavering commitment to the morale of America’s servicemen and women is legendary. In October 1997, Resolution 75 was unanimously passed by members of both houses making him an Honorary Veteran – the first individual so honored in the history of the United States.
Tom Brokaw (Legacy Award)
The author of “The Greatest Generation,” “The Greatest Generation Speaks” and “An Album of Memories” was honored with the Legacy Award for his contribution to memorializing the unique character and accomplishments of the generation of Americans that won World War II.
2006 Sir Bob Geldof
A musician, entrepreneur and humanitarian, Sir Bob Geldof has used his talent, determination and eloquence to propel social issues to the forefront of popular consciousness time and time again.
2007 Daniel Pearl (Awarded Posthumously)
Slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was honored in recognition of his work to build bridges among people of different cultures and for the moral courage he exhibited when captured, and eventually murdered, by terrorists in Pakistan while covering the war on terror.
2008 The Houston Community of Holocaust Survivors and Norman Lear
The 2008 awards honored the Houston Community of Holocaust Survivors and acclaimed television producer and director Norman Lear.
2009 U.S. Sen. John McCain
Holocaust Museum Houston honored U.S. Sen. John McCain with the 2009 Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award in recognition of his remarkable moral courage and heroism in the face of extreme adversity during the Vietnam War.
2010 John Prendergast
The 2010 award honored John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity. His humanitarian missions have taken him to such war-torn regions as Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Chad and the Congo in an effort to remind the world of the core lesson of the Holocaust – genocide cannot be allowed to happen on our watch.
2011 Mia Farrow
The 2011 award honored actress, activist and humanitarian Mia Farrow for her tireless humanitarian efforts around the world. Farrow has appeared in more than 40 films, but she is equally known for her role as an unrelenting advocate for human rights. Her primary focus has been on conflict-affected regions in sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2004, Farrow has traveled to the Darfur region of Sudan 13 times and has written extensively about the Darfur crisis, most notably in op-ed pieces for the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times.
2012 Elie Wiesel
Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and worldwide voice of conscience Elie Wiesel received the 2012 award in honor of his tireless, life-long service to stop hatred around the world. Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, and he is the author of almost 60 works dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.
2013 Father Patrick Desbois
Father Patrick Desbois, president of Yahad-In Unum in Paris, was honored for his truly historic undertaking of identifying and locating undiscovered mass graves of Jews and Roma killed during the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. His organization has helped identify more than 800 hidden mass killing sites with more than 2,000 mass graves from the Holocaust.
2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Awarded Posthumously)
During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December 1955 until April 4, 1968, African-Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.
Gerda Weissmann Klein
Gerda Weissmann Klein is a Polish-born American writer and human rights activist. Her autobiographical account of the Holocaust, "All but My Life" (1957), was adapted for the 1995 short film "One Survivor Remembers," which received an Academy Award and an Emmy Award and was selected for the National Film Registry. She became a tireless advocate of Holocaust education and human rights, dedicating most of her life to promoting tolerance and community service. A naturalized U.S. citizen, Klein also founded Citizenship Counts, a nonprofit organization that champions the value and responsibilities of American citizenship. On Feb. 15, 2011, Klein was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
2015 Chiune Sugihara (Awarded Posthumously)
Chiune Sugihara was Japanese vice consul in Lithuania whenb Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. On Aug. 2, the Japanese government ordered Sugihara to evacuate, but he refused. Sugihara defied the direct orders of the Japanese government, and with his family’s support, he decided to issue life-saving visas that saved thousands of European Jews.
Dr. Feng Shan Ho (Awarded Posthumously)
De. Feng Shan No was the Chinese consul general in Vienna and also showed his humanitarian courage in issuing Chinese visas to Jews in Vienna in spite of orders from his superior to the contrary. Ho issued visas to Shanghai to all requesting them, even to those wishing to travel elsewhere but needing a visa to leave Nazi Germany. Many of those helped by Ho did indeed reach Shanghai, either by boat from Italy or overland via the Soviet Union. Many others made use of their visas to reach alternate destinations, including Palestine, the Philippines and elsewhere. As did those of Sugihara, his actions affected many, many lives.