Rep. James Clyburn Among Notable Black Leaders Awarded Presidential Medal Of Freedom

James Clyburn Awarded Presidential Medal Of Freedom

Source: KENT NISHIMURA / Getty

Congressman James E. Clyburn and other notable Black leaders were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. 

On Friday, President Biden named Clyburn and 18 others who “have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” the White House said in a press statement. 

Representative Jim Clyburn is the former Assistant Democratic Leader and Majority Whip in the United States House of Representatives. 

Clyburn has spent his career as a politician breaking down barriers for Black people in politics. The South Carolinian was the first Black person to serve multiple terms as House Majority Whip and has served as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Vice Chair and Chair, of the House Democratic Caucus. 

The Democrat has also been an advocate for preserving and restoring historic buildings on the campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as creating legislation centered around  National Heritage Areas such as the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor, the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, the Congaree National Park and the Reconstruction Era National Historical Park. He’s also worked to expand the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C.

“Through three decades in the House, Representative Clyburn has transformed the lives of millions of Americans and created a freer country,” the White House said in a press release. 

After the announcement, Clyburn expressed his gratitude for the prestigious honor.

“Words cannot express my profound honor and gratitude in receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” he wrote. “This recognition is not only a testament to my work, but also to the countless individuals who have supported my journey; the giants who fought alongside me for justice, equity, and the pursuit of progress; and the support of my loving family. I look forward to continuing my efforts to bend the arc of history toward justice and proving myself worthy of this incredible honor.”

Also, among the recipients was the late civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

Evers, who fought in World War II, was a pioneer in the fight against segregation in Mississippi in the 1960s. He served as the NAACP’s first field secretary in Mississippi and organized many protests for the cause. Evers was assassinated in 1963. He was only 38 years old when he died.

Evers’ family also expressed overwhelming gratitude for Medgar’s name being listed as an honoree. 

“My heart is full from the news of this extraordinary honor,” said Myrlie Evers in a statement sent to NewsOne. “My beloved husband, Medgar, was the love of my life, my steadfast partner, and a devoted, loving father. To the world, he was a civil rights leader; to me and our three children, he was the world. Medgar balanced his monumental public role with a dedication to his family like no other.”

She continued, “This medal is a tribute to his courageous leadership and his ultimate sacrifice. Medgar was a committed activist, educator, organizer, husband, father, brother, son, and friend. With this esteem recognition, the world will remember his legacy forever.”

Other notable recipients were Clarence B. Jones, a civil rights activist and lawyer who helped draft Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and Opal Lee, considered the grandmother of Juneteenth, who pushed to get June 19 recognized as a national holiday.


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