John Doar to Receive Medal of Freedom for Civil Rights Work
What John Doar remembers most about the tumultuous civil rights movement 50 years ago is the courage of black college students who registered blacks to vote in the Deep South.
“They took enormous risks,” recalled Doar, then a Justice Department official. “For a black student to work in southwest Mississippi for example — or in the Delta in 1960, 1961, 1962 — was high-risk work.”
Civil rights activists say Doar deserves plenty of credit himself for aiding the registration effort in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
On Tuesday, President Obama will award the 90-year-old Doar the Medal of Freedom. The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor and is awarded for “especially meritorious contributions.”
Doar called the award “totally unexpected and undeserved.”
But those who worked with him on the front lines of the civil rights movement say otherwise.
“No one I know of deserves to be honored more than John Doar,” said Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who received the medal himself in 2010 for his civil rights work. “This one man, one former government official, did so much to help bring us to where we are today. It’s an honor that’s long overdue”