Congressman Clyburn and Senator Hollings Unveil Gold Medal Honoring South Carolina Desegregation Heroes

Aug 31, 2004

(Washington, DC) - Congressman James E. Clyburn and Senator Fritz Hollings today released illustrations of the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor that will be presented to the families of four South Carolina desegregation heroes on Wednesday, September 8th at 2:00 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda. 

The medal contains the likenesses of Joseph A. DeLaine, Harry and Eliza Briggs, and Levi Pearson under the heading Briggs v. Elliott, "Our Trust In God."  These figures are flanked on either side by Palmetto trees, the State Tree of South Carolina, and across the bottom is emblazoned Brown v. Board of Education.  The reverse side depicts Lady Justice and the heading Honoring the Pioneers and Petitioners from Clarendon County, South Carolina.  The back includes a quote from Judge J. Waites Waring's dissenting opinion in the Briggs v. Elliott case that the petitioners proved "that segregation in education can never produce equality and that it is an evil that must be eradicated."

Under the quote is inscribed Act of Congress 2003, commemorating the passage of the legislation introduced by Congressman Clyburn in the House and Senator Hollings in the Senate to award the medal of honor. 

"This medal captures the heroism of the honorees and inspires all of us with its message that justice can only prevail when all races are treated equally just as we are in the eyes of the Creator in whom these pioneers placed their faith," Congressman Clyburn said.  "The design was intended to reflect the recipients' connection to South Carolina while recognizing their impact on the entire nation."

"The medal depicts four valiant Americans who changed history in the most significant judicial decision of the last century," Senator Hollings said. "The words of Judge Waring on the medal are so appropriate because he was the lone voice on the right side in the case. I look forward to presenting the medal to the honorees' families next week, for what they did 50 years ago had a great impact on me personally."

The families of each of the recipients will receive a medal that is 3 inches in diameter and contains approximately15 ounces of gold.  The U.S. Mint also produces bronze replicas in both a 3- inch and an inch-and-a-half size that will be available for public purchase. 

The medals took several months to design.  Members of the families worked with the U.S. Mint, Congressman Clyburn and Senator Hollings to create a design that embodied the spirit of the honorees and the importance of their contribution. 


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