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John Lewis To Get Presidential Medal Of Freedom

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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-15-11 09:32 AM
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John Lewis To Get Presidential Medal Of Freedom
Georgia Rep. John Lewis on Tuesday afternoon will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom the country's highest civilian honor. Lewis is one of 15 people who will be getting the award.

But for Lewis, known as a key foot soldier of the civil rights movement, the honor has a special significance because it comes from the nation's first African-American president. President Obama called him personally to let him know the news.

"I was just moved, I was just touched," Lewis told NPR. "I feel more than lucky, but very blessed."

As the president talked about the congressman's lifelong struggle for civil rights, Lewis says it brought tears to his eyes to realize the kind of societal changes he has witnessed.

"It's hard to believe that in a short time, that we have come so far as a nation and as a people," he says. "When you look back, the year that Barack Obama was born 50 years ago, black people and white people in the American South couldn't sit together on a bus or on a train or in a waiting room. And we changed that."

'One Man, One Vote'

In the 1960s, Lewis was one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, known as "Snick." He protested segregated lunch counters and helped launch the Freedom Rides throughout the South.

When you look back, the year that Barack Obama was born 50 years ago, black people and white people in the American South couldn't sit together on a bus or on a train or in a waiting room. And we changed that.

- Rep. John Lewis
Lewis was beaten violently, many times. His head was bashed as angry white mobs and police attacked protesters. He was one of the speakers at the 1963 March on Washington, where he demanded an end to segregation and pointed out problems with the civil rights law that was being considered.

"As it stands now, the voting section of this bill will not help the thousands of black people who want to vote," he said in his 1963 speech. "It will not help the citizens of Mississippi, of Alabama and Georgia who are qualified to vote but lack a sixth-grade education. One man, one vote is the African cry. It is ours, too. It must be ours."

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/15/133755754/john-lewis-to-g...

The other recipients:

President George H. W. Bush
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Maya Angelou
Warren Buffett
Yo-Yo Ma
Stan Musial
Bill Russell
John J. Sweeney


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