And President Obama has awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 18 people, including three civil rights activists murdered by the Ku Klux Klan 50 years ago. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner were targeted by the Klan after traveling to Mississippi to register black voters. In a White House ceremony, Obama noted it took more than four decades to bring the organizer of the murders, Edgar Ray Killen, to justice.
President Obama: “And in that Freedom Summer, these three Americans refused to sit on the sidelines. Their brutal murder by a gang of Ku Klux Klan members shook the conscience of our nation. It took 44 days to find their bodies, 41 years to bring the lead perpetrator to justice. And while they’re often remembered for how they died, we honor them today for how they lived: with the idealism and the courage of youth.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. Other recipients Monday included actress Meryl Streep, musician Stevie Wonder, actress and activist Marlo Thomas, Native American activist Suzan Harjo and Chilean novelist Isabel Allende.