Spike Lee, Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds will be honored Nov. 14 at the seventh annual Governors Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voted the awards at their Aug. 25 meeting. Following tradition, AMPAS representatives withheld the announcement until they could notify the recipients.
In 2009, the Academy broke out the Governors Awards into a separate, untelevised ceremony; the Oscarcast time constraints limited the number of honorees and the time devoted to each. So the separate ceremony was an experiment, but an immediate success. There was no pressure to select ratings-friendly individuals, and the board has often gone for people who are well-known in the industry but unfamiliar to the public.
The Academy can salute up to six people each year: four honorary Oscars, and one apiece for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Thalberg Award, which goes to a film producer for their body of work. It’s generally been four honorees, except for 2011, when there were three.
WASHINGTON (AP) — House and Senate leaders on Tuesday awarded Congress’ highest civilian honor to four girls killed in the Alabama church bombing nearly 50 years ago that became a watershed moment in the civil rights movement.
The Congressional Gold Medal went to Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, who were all 14, and Denise McNair, who was 11. The ceremony came five days before the 50th anniversary of their deaths inside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
“Their names remain seared in our hearts,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California. She was joined at the commemoration by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Republican House Speaker John Boehner and cmembers of Alabama’s congressional delegation. Along with the many lawmakers in the crowd paying tribute were director Spike Lee, and several relatives of the girls.
President Barack Obama is set to sign a bill Friday that awards the Congressional Gold Medalposthumously to the four African-American girls killed in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. The children were murdered when a bomb planted by white supremacists exploded at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in September 1963.
The deadly blast at the church, which civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. used as a meeting place, was pivotal turning point in the Civil Rights Movement and sparked support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Not only did the explosion kill the four girls- — Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair – another 22 people were injured.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award given in the United States. It is awarded to people “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”