Congressman John Lewis—not to be mistaken for the late Elijah Cummings—will be honored for his decades of civil rights activism and congressional service at the 51st NAACP Image Awards later this month.
According to the NAACP, the 79-year-old icon will receive the prestigious Chairman’s Award in honor of his “lifelong dedication of protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls ‘The Beloved Community’ in America.”
“Congressman John Lewis is a modern hero in American history, and we’re proud to give him this award,” Chairman Leon Russell said in a statement to The Root. “In an age where our voting rights are under attack like never before, we’re honored to elevate a civil rights hero who has dedicated his life to protecting our constitutional rights, fighting injustice and speaking truth to power.”
Past recipients of the Chairman’s Award include then-Sen. Barack Obama, actress Ruby Dee, former Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, multihyphenate Tyler Perry, and last year’s honoree, Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Of the Big Six who were heavily instrumental in both leading and orchestrating the 1960s civil rights movement, Lewis is its last surviving member. In 1965, he led hundreds of protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. during the infamous Bloody Sunday march in which he was brutally beaten by police.
Lewis revealed in December that he’s been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
I’m a big advocate of giving our heroes their flowers while they can still smell them, so shoutout to the NAACP for bestowing the civil rights icon with such a prestigious, and very much deserved, award.