U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D- Calif.) introduced a legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights icon the Rev. James Lawson, who celebrated his 90th birthday this year.
The legislation was introduced on November 14 with more than two dozen co-sponsors.
Lawson joined the sponsors and others including Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer for a reception on Capitol Hill to honor his work and announce the introduction of the legislation, which Khanna and the co-sponsors plan to reintroduce in every Congress until it is passed, according to a press release from Khanna’s office.
Lawson is recognized as among the most consequential leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and he spent three years in India as a missionary, studying Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy of nonviolence before returning to the U.S. to become a leader in the Civil Rights movement.
Called the “architect of the Civil Rights Movement” by Rep. John Lewis, Lawson trained many civil rights activists including the Little Rock Nine and organized campaigns like the Freedom Riders and the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins, the press release said.
On the other hand, Khanna’s grandfather, Amaranth Vidyalankar, was imprisoned alongside Gandhi during India’s independence movement and that is what inspired Khanna to commit his life to human rights.
According to the press release, the original co-sponsors of the bill include Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal.