Fifteen recipients received the Medal of Freedom by President Obama. The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to national interests, world peace or other significant public or private endeavors. Among those receiving the award on February 15, 2011 were Rep. John Lewis ( D. GA). Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the civil rights era history who fought bigotry, segregation and hatred in the south and risked his life to do it. He was beaten violently on numerous occasions while peacefully fighting for the civil rights of blacks in America.
I recently had the pleasure to speak with him at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Avoice celebration. I thanked him for the efforts that he undertook so that I and other blacks could go on to pursue education and enjoy the liberties that we enjoy today. Rep. Lewis was a foot soldier during the marches in the south against segregation and for the dignity of blacks in the south. He organized and participated in sit- ins and marches alongside of Dr. Martin Luther King. He was a founding member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (“ SNCC”)
Rep. Lewis received the award from President Obama. It’s hard to believe that in a short time, that we have come so far as a nation and as a people,” Lewis said. “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. Lewis’ parents were never allowed to vote. And he changed that for others.