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Rep. John Lewis Honors the Life and Legacy of Dr. and Mrs. King at Gold Medal Ceremony

June 25, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON—In 2004, a bill sponsored by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) in the House and by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) in the Senate was passed by the U.S. Congress, granting a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. posthumously and to Mrs. Coretta Scott King.  The minting of the medals takes about a year’s time. Unfortunately, Mrs. King fell ill and subsequently died in 2006.  Today the U.S. Congress gathered to complete the effort by giving its highest honor to Dr. and Mrs. King.   Rep. Lewis was the only speaker who received a standing ovation by the audience, when he rose to make these comments.  These are his remarks as written:

            “We gather here in the Capitol to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his beloved wife Coretta Scott King, one of the most distinguished and admired husband and wife teams of the 20th century.

             “Often history remembers speeches, or facts and figures, but I cannot forget their love. From their union came an enduring strength that carried many of us through the darkest days of the movement. When they stood together, their bodies became great pillars of hope, the roof of the American house resting on their shoulders.

            “They helped lead a nonviolent revolution, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas.

            “Mrs. King had the rare ability to tell the story of the movement through song, through music. She traveled the length and breadth of America. She built the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. Together, they taught us the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. They inspired an entire generation to find a way to get in the way, to find a way to get in trouble--good trouble, necessary trouble.

            “Through their action, their speeches, and their writings, they helped create the climate for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So it is fitting and appropriate that on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we honor this unbelievable couple, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his beloved wife Mrs. Coretta Scott King. They were my friends, my brother and my sister.”