Reverend and civil rights advocate Jesse Jackson was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, one of France’s highest honors by French President Emmanuel Macron Monday.
Macron said Jackson received the award for “a long walk towards emancipation and justice.”
Jackson, 79, has been involved in the fight for civil rights since the 1960s and was part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s staff. Jackson was with Dr. King the day he was assassinated. According to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which was formed by Jackson in 1996, the civil rights fighter will be promoted to the rank of Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honor by decree of President Macron.
“From your earliest years, you were hungry for knowledge and justice, and you are a special friend of France, a brother for us,” Macron said in an address at the Elysee palace according to Reuters.
Jackson’s activism continues to this day.
Less than a month ago, Jackson and activist Rev. William Barber III were arrested during a Capitol Hill protest over voting rights, which are under attack by the Republican Party. Jackson was also part of a recent meeting between civil rights leaders and President Joe Biden. Civil right leaders and organizations are becoming increasingly frustrated with Biden’s lack of effort in stopping Republican-led states from passing these bills and his inability to pass the For the People Act,
In a statement, Jackson said the award means a lot to him and the fight for civil rights is not over.
“I am deeply honored and excited to be promoted to the rank of Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honor by decree of the President of the Republic of France, His Excellency Emmanuel Macron – the highest honor of all French military and civilian honors” Jackson said in a statement.
“The dignity and weight of this very special honor are fully recognized by me and I appreciate and am truly grateful to be honored by such a prestigious recognition by the great and beloved nation of France.
I have received several honors from countries around the globe, however, this one is among the very special ones because of France’s continuing courageous and moral leadership around the world – fighting poverty, promoting peace, recognizing and taking action to confront climate change, promoting diversity and racial tolerance.”