Past Awardees

Since 1997, we have recognized and awarded individuals, companies, and organizations of merit in our annual American Courage Awards.

Mee Moua and Khizr Khan

American Courage Award

The American Courage Award goes to an individual, company, or organization that has shown extraordinary courage or commitment to the cause of civil rights. This may include a corporate leader who has taken an important stand, an activist who overcame extraordinary challenges, an artist with a unique vision, or a journalist breaking an important story.

  • 2019 - Karen Narasaki 
  • 2018 - Ai-jen Poo, Activist, Director of The National domestic Workers Alliance 
  • 2017 – Neal K. Katyal, Partner, Hogan Lovells and Saunders Professor, Georgetown University 
  • 2016 – Vanita Gupta 
  • 2015 – Eric H. Holder, Jr.  
  • 2014 – The Director and Producers of Linsanity: Evan Jackson Leong, Christopher Chen, Allen Lu and Brian Yang 
  • 2013 – Valarie Kaur 
  • 2012 – Jim Shee 
  • 2011 – Diana Lee Inosanto 
  • 2010 – Lt. Dan Choi 
  • 2009 – Mallika Dutt 
  • 2008 – Eric K. Yamamoto 
  • 2007 – Carol C. Lam  
  • 2006 – Susan Ahn Cuddy  
  • 2005 – Major General Antonio Taguba  
  • 2004 – Japanese American MIS Veterans  
  • 2003 – Ramu V. Potarazu  
  • 2002 – Justin Lin, Filmmaker, Better Luck Tomorrow; Lou Diamond Phillips  
  • 2001 – MTV Network, Fight For Your Rights Campaign  
  • 2000 – Rose Ochi  
  • 1999 – George Takei  
  • 1998 – Ms. Anna Deavere Smith  
  • 1997 – Dr. Chang-Lin Tien

Changemaker Award

The Changemaker Award, established at our 25th anniversary American Courage Awards in 2016, honors an individual, company, or organization who is a catalyst for change. This may include an entrepreneur, student or activist whose leadership has inspired action that has led to change on a local or national level that benefits Asian American communities.

  • 2019 – Affirmative Action Student Group from Harvard 
  • 2018 – Hari Kondabolu, Comedian, Writer and Podcaster 
  • 2017 – Linda Sarsour, Civil Rights Activist and Leader of Women’s March 
  • 2016 – Jimmy Ferguson

Bridge Builder Award

The Bridge Builder Award recognizes an individual or corporation that has developed an innovative approach to successful community empowerment and strives to overcome obstacles for the Asian American community, as well as other minority communities. This may include programs for citizenship, voter participation, community education, or other community programs. 

  • 2018 – Verizon 
  • 2017 – Starbucks Coffee Company 
  • 2016 – Walt Disney Company
  • 2015 – Google
  • 2014 – Time Warner Cable
  • 2013 – The Nielsen Company
  • 2012 – National Education Association
  • 2011 – Comcast/NBCUniversal
  • 2010 – State Farm Insurance Companies
  • 2009 – Edison International
  • 2008 – The Prudential Insurance Company of America
  • 2007 – AT&T
  • 2006 – The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta
  • 2005 – Bill Imada and the IW Group, Inc.
  • 2004 – ChevronTexaco Corporation
  • 2003 – Anheuser-Busch Companies
  • 2002 – SBC Pacific Bell
  • 2001 – Merrill Lynch

Distinguished Service Award

  • 2015 – Dr. Prabhjot Singh
  • 2014 – Richard Lui
  • 2013 – Barney Frank
  • 2012 – Curtis Chin
  • 2011 – Wade Henderson
  • 2010 – Dr. Franklin Odo
  • 2009 – Gloria T. Caoile
  • 2008 – Irene Y. Hirano and John C. Yang
  • 2007 – Peggy Saika
  • 2006 – O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • 2005 – Current sitting Asian Pacific American Federal Judges: The Honorable A. Wallace Tashima, The Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew, The Honorable Denny Chin, The Honorable Susan Oki Mollway, and The Honorable Dana Makoto Sabraw
  • 2004 – Gilbert Heintz & Randolph, LLP
  • 2003 – Hogan & Hartson, LLP
  • 2002 – Service Employees International Union
  • 2001 – The Ford Foundation

American Spirit Award

  • 2011 – Jose Antonio Vargas

President’s Award

The President's Award is presented at the discretion of the president and executive director of Advancing Justice | AAJC to recognize extraordinary service to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, as well as the civil rights community at large. 

  • 2019 – Paul Lee and Karen Korematsu 
  • 2017 – Michael M. Honda, former Member of Congress, U.S. House of Representatives
  • 2016 – Ghazala and Khizr Khan
  • 2011 – Congressman Mike Honda, Stewart Kwoh, World Journal, Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui, Prof. John O. Calmore, Geraldine P. Mannion, Anthony Romero