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Lonnie Bunch, Carl Levin, John Boehner, Marcia Fidge, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi

Fifty years after their instrumental role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King were posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, on Tuesday.

The presentation of the medal for the Kings — considered the foremost leaders of the 1960s Civil Rights movement that won black Americans equal voting rights and fought to free them from institutional segregation in the Jim Crow South – comes a year after Congress gave the honor to the “Four Little Girls” killed in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, a pivotal moment in the movement.

“We gather here in the Capitol to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his beloved wife, Coretta Scott King, one of the most distinguished and admired husband and wife teams of the 21st century,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), himself a leader in the Civil Rights movement. “Often history remembers speeches of facts and figures, but I cannot forget their love. From their union came an enduring strength that carried many of us through the darkest days of the movement.”

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