WASHINGTON – Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., co-sponsored legislation introduced Friday in the Senate that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his widow Coretta Scott King for their exemplary contributions to the nation during the civil rights movement. The primary sponsors of the bill are Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senator John Warner, R-Va.
“Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King are towering figures in American history, visionary leaders who galvanized the country to right its greatest wrong,” Lieberman said. “This honor is long past due.” Many of Dr. and Mrs. King’s accomplishments are listed in the bill, including Dr. King’s doctrine of nonviolent civil disobedience to combat segregation; Dr. King’s leadership of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott to protest the arrest of Rosa Parks and the segregation of the bus system; Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. in August 1963; Dr. King’s efforts on behalf of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; Mrs. King’s partnership with her husband in working for nonviolent social change and full civil rights for African Americans; Mrs. King’s organization of “Freedom Concerts,” which increased awareness of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Mrs. King’s dedication to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. Congress recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals through the commissioning of Congressional Gold Medals. Since 1776, approximately 300 people and the American Red Cross have received this honor. Awardees include individuals from diverse backgrounds including the military, arts, athletics, aviation, exploration, politics, religion, medicine, science, and entertainment. Robert F. Kennedy, Gerald and Betty Ford, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela are Congressional Gold Medal recipients. Civil rights worker Roy Wilkins, the Little Rock Nine, the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, and Rosa Parks have also been honored with Congressional Gold Medals.