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VMI honors Congressman John Lewis

VMI honors Congressman John Lewis (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

LEXINGTON (WSLS 10) - On Wednesday, Virginia Military Institute honored civil rights activist and U.S. Congressman John Lewis with the Jonathan M. Daniels Humanitarian Award. Daniels was the valedictorian of the VMI class of 1961. He traveled to Alabama to join the civil rights fight and was killed while trying to protect an African-american teenager. 

Congressman Lewis received the award in recognition of his efforts to promote equality. Like Daniels, Lewis was inspired to take part in the 1960's civil rights movement.

"There was a sense of righteous indignation and Martin Luther King Jr. issued the call for people to come to Alabama. Jonathan Daniels and others responded to that call and we changed America forever," said Congressman Lewis.

The congressman was immersed in the struggle for equality. As a young man, Lewis helped lead sit-ins and demonstrations like the "Bloody Sunday" march. He and many others suffered injuries and were arrested during the struggle for voting rights. 

"The blood of Jonathan Daniels, the blood of others helped bring us to where we are today and redeem the soul of America," he said. "We must never forget the contribution these martyrs made in making our country better."

Lewis is only the fourth person to be honored with the Jonathan M. Daniels Humanitarian Award since it was first presented in 2001.