Wes Hickman or Kevin Bishop
– Last night, the Senate unanimously approved legislation advanced by U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham to posthumously award Reverend Joseph A. De Laine the Congressional Gold Medal for his sacrifices to desegregate the nation’s public schools. Once approved by the House of Representatives, the legislation, S. 498, will go to the President for his signature.
“Rev. De Laine’s untold sacrifices to bring equality to American education deserve our highest praise and our national gratitude,” Sen. Hollings said following the Senate’s approval. “His courage and his commitment to justice have left a lasting effect on the fabric of our nation, and the Senate has resoundingly agreed that the Congressional Gold Medal is a fitting tribute for his contributions.”
“I was very honored to assist Senator Hollings with legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Reverend De Laine,” said Graham. “Senator Hollings has been a tireless advocate for this legislation which is most deserved. The civil rights struggle to bring about school desegregation and other needed changes required bravery and self-sacrifice from many. Reverend De Laine is a deserving recipient of this award because he literally risked his life and property to advance the cause of equal justice under the law and quality education for all children of South Carolina. His courage and sacrifice during a dark chapter of our state’s and nation’s history has forever improved the quality of life for all future generations.”
Rev. De Laine’s crusade to break down barriers in education led to the case of Briggs v. Elliott, South Carolina’s suit that, along with four others, became the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.
Upon the bill’s enactment, the Congressional Gold Medal would be presented to Joseph A. De Laine, Jr., the son of Reverend Joseph A. De Laine, at a future ceremony. Joseph A. De Laine, Jr., was chosen by Congress as one of South Carolina’s two representatives on the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission – a group that will plan the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the 1954 landmark decision. De Laine, Jr. currently resides in Charlotte, N.C.
On March 3, Sen. Hollings introduced the legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Graham. Jointly, Hollings and Graham assembled 80 Senate co-sponsors for the legislation, which won unanimous approval from the Senate Banking Committee on June 18. Rep. Jim Clyburn is leading the effort to move the legislation in the House.