CNN logo



Main banner

Rosa Parks among 11 to get Presidential Medal of Freedom

September 6, 1996
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Claire Shipman

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The woman who was a pioneer of the civil rights movement and the press secretary under President Reagan who was shot during an assassination attempt on his boss are among 11 Americans who will receive the nation's highest civilian award.

President Clinton choose civil rights leaders, social activists and business leaders to receive the 1996 Presidential Medal of Freedom. They will be honored at a White House ceremony September 9.

Recipients are:

  • Joseph Cardinal Bernardin
    The nation's senior-ranking Roman Catholic official, Bernardin has championed causes such as racial equality and arms control. He recently announced he has terminal cancer.

  • James Brady
    While serving as President Reagan's White House press secretary, Brady was shot and partially paralyzed during the 1981 assassination attempt on the nation's chief executive. Brady and his wife, Sarah, have since become gun control advocates who led the effort to pass the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.

  • Millard Fuller
    Fuller is founder and president of Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing for low-income families. Habitat is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

  • David Hamburg
    Hamburg, a psychiatrist, is a children's advocate and president of the Carnegie Foundation. He was a leader in the push for the Family and Medical Leave Act.

  • John H. Johnson
    As an executive of Johnson Publishing Co., which produces the African-American magazines Ebony and Jet, Johnson has worked to break negative black stereotypes and build self-esteem in the black community.

  • Eugene Lang
    Lang founded the I Have a Dream Foundation, a college scholarship and mentoring program for underprivileged children. In 1981, he adopted a 6th-grade class in East Harlem, promising to cover the costs of college for any child who graduated from high school. Three-fourths of the class accepted the offer and won scholarships.

  • Jan Nowak-Jezioranski
    Nowak-Jezioranski, national director of the Polish-American Congress, has devoted his life to freedom and democracy. During World War II, he was member of the Polish underground. He went on to direct Radio Free Europe's Polish service for 25 years.

  • Antonia Pantoja
    A founder of several organizations dedicated to serving the Puerto Rican community, Pantoja worked to promote community development in Latino neighborhoods. In 1961, he helped found ASPIRA, an organization promoting education and leadership training for Latino youth.

  • Rosa Parks

    On December 1, 1955, Parks, a black seamstress, defied a local segregation ordinance by refusing to give her seat on a city bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, and move to the back of the vehicle. Her actions sparked a bus boycott, one of the highlights of the civil rights movement, that eventually brought about desegregation of public transportation. The case also launched a wave of protest that ultimately tore down segregation laws across the South.

  • Ginetta Sagan
    Sagan was tortured and nearly killed by Dictator Benito Mussolini's Black Brigade 50 years ago. Since then, he has fought human rights abuses around the world and founded the first West Coast chapter of Amnesty International.

  • Morris Udall
    A World War II veteran and former professional basketball player, Udall served Arizona for 30 years in the House of Representatives. He resigned from the House in 1991 with Parkinson's disease.

What You Think Tell us what you think!

You said it...
To the top

© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.