Presentation of the President's Medal, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Maureen Collins Zupan '72, P'09
August 29, 2007
John R. Lewis, you have worked tirelessly to protect human rights and advance the causes of justice, peace and equality under the law.
As a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, you became a pioneer of the American Civil Rights movement -- risking your life to participate in the Freedom Rides and non-violent demonstrations throughout the country. Despite the ferocity of your adversaries, despite the legacy of hatred and degradation, despite the weight of complacency and silence, the cause of Civil Rights became the rallying cry of a generation and a triumph of American democracy.
Beginning in 1966, as director of the Voter Education Project, you helped add nearly four million minorities to the rolls of registered voters and in 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed you director of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency. You were elected to Congress in 1986 and have served as a senior chief deputy whip in the Democratic Caucus and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
John R. Lewis, you serve as an example to this nation: of integrity in public-service, of the responsibilities of citizenship and of passionate activism for the greater good. You have proven to be a leader in your own generation and an inspiration to the next.