Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy ’80, whose leadership on gun legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 drew national attention, has been recognized for yet another show of strength, this time his response to the plight of Syrian refugees, which has earned him the 2016 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Despite public resistance to resettling Syrian refugees in the US after the Paris terrorist attacks last November, Malloy personally welcomed a Syrian family to New Haven after another state had denied them refuge.
In an essay in Time, John F. Kennedy grandson Jack Schlossberg, a member of the Profile in Courage Award Committee, said that Malloy’s actions demonstrated that America did not have to give up its principles to protect its people.
“He realized that our security is strengthened when our actions contradict the way America is portrayed by those who would make us their enemy,” Schlossberg wrote. “It is threatened when those same people cause us to abandon our core values.”
Malloy, who received BC Law’s St. Thomas More Award in 2013 and was recognized in BC Law Magazine in 2015 for his leadership, is currently in his second term as governor.
Malloy remains committed to his conviction that a hand must be extended to those escaping the ravages of war and persecution. “If refugees—many who are children fleeing a horrific, war-torn country—seek and are granted asylum after a rigorous security process,” he said, “we should and will welcome them in Connecticut.”
Malloy was similarly unwavering after Sandy Hook when he pushed for gun safety legislation in Connecticut that was some of the toughest in the nation. When asked by BC Law Magazine to explain his handling of that tragedy, he replied, “It was a response that was formulated over 57 years of life.”
That life included a brand of persecution he himself suffered at the hands of bullies and teachers who treated him badly because of childhood learning and physical disabilities. With the help of his mother, who never gave up on him, he emerged from those struggles to attend college, study law, become a district attorney, then the mayor of Stamford, then the governor of Connecticut.
“Something my mother would always say to me—actually, she said it almost every day we were alive together—she would remind me that I had an obligation to make the world a better place by having lived in it,” Malloy told BC Law Magazine.
It’s no surprise, then, that Malloy met the standards for a Profile in Courage award. “In a year when so much is at stake for the future of our nation,” Schlossberg said, “we must remember the example President Kennedy set for our country and those, who, like Governor Malloy, uphold the principles of that legacy today.”