PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The National Constitution Center has awarded its 2016 Liberty Medal to a civil rights icon who to this day continues to protest and fight for equality.
In the 1960’s, Rep John Lewis marched on Washington D.C. with Dr. Martin Luther king. He also led protests for voting rights in Selma. For decades he’s fought for Georgia’s 5th district in the US House of Representatives.
And on Monday night he was honored with the 2016 liberty medal.
“I never tried to win any award,” he said. “My plan wasn’t to seek fame or fortune. All I wanted to do is to help out to do what I could to help make this country and the world community a little bit better.”
Lewis started his push for equality in the 1950’s when he was a teenager:
“We truly believed that by refusing to comply with what was wrong we could get our nation to do what was right.”
Lewis worked closely with Martin Luther king Jr…and other civil rights legends:
“We had an extraordinary vision to live in a society that respected dignity and the worth of every human being.”
During his acceptance speech for the 2016 Liberty Medal, Lewis offered words of advice for a younger generation still pushing for equality:
“If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just…speak up.”
Each year, the Liberty Medal is presented to a person who shows courage and conviction in an effort to bring liberty to people all around the world.
Past medal recipients include His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Muhammad Ali and Steven Spielberg.