President Joe Biden announced Friday that U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn and several others would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public, or private endeavors.

“Words cannot express the profound honor and gratitude I feel upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This recognition is not only a testament to my work, but also to the countless individuals who have supported my journey; the giants who fought alongside me for justice, equity, and the pursuit of progress; and the support of my loving family,” Clyburn said in a press release.

“I am immensely grateful to President Biden for this incredible honor and take seriously the responsibility it carries. While it serves as a recognition of one’s accomplishments, it is also an astute reminder of the challenges that lie ahead. It speaks to the duty each and every one of us has to further the founding fathers’ dream of a ‘more perfect union.’ I accept this award with deep humility and the promise to uphold this vision,” he continued.

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Clyburn was first elected to represent South Carolina’s 6th Congressional District in 1993. He served as assistant Democratic leader from 2011 to 2018 and 2023 to 2024, and House majority whip from 2019 to 2022 and 2007 to 2010.

Clyburn, a former school teacher, is a 1961 graduate of then-South Carolina State College.

“I reflect upon the moment I was elected president of my NAACP Youth Council in Sumter, South Carolina, at the age of 12. From leading student protests in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to marshaling majorities to pass consequential legislation in Congress, I have learned that we all have roles to play in making the greatness of this democracy accessible for everyone,” Clyburn said.

“I look forward to continuing my efforts to bend the arc of history towards justice and proving myself worthy of this incredible honor,” he said.

The following individuals were also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday:

• Michael R. Bloomberg

• Gregory J. Boyle

• Elizabeth Dole

• Phil Donahue

• Medgar Wiley Evers (posthumous)

• Al Gore

• Clarence B. Jones

• John Forbes Kerry

• Frank R. Lautenberg (posthumous)

• Kathleen Genevieve Ledecky

• Opal Lee

• Ellen Ochoa

• Speaker Emerita Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi

• Jane Rigby

• Teresa Romero

• Judy Shepard

• James Francis Thorpe (posthumous)

• Michelle Yeoh

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