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 (C), joined by Vice President Joseph Biden (L), House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (3rd L), Sen. Michael Crapo (R-ID) (4th L), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (5th L), House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) (5th R), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) (4th R), women’s organizations members, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, survivors, advocates and members of Congress, signs the Violence Against Women Act into law at the Department of the Interior March 7, 2013 in Washington, DC. The law expands protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama signed a law Thursday expanding protections for victims of domestic violence, renewing a measure credited with curbing violence against women a year and a half after it lapsed amid partisan bickering. The revitalized Violence Against Women Act marked an important win for gay rights advocates and Native Americans, who will see new protections under the law, and for Obama, whose attempts to push for a renewal failed last year after they became entangled in gender politics and the presidential election.
“This is your day. This is the day of the advocates, the day of the survivors. This is your victory,” Obama said. “This victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens.” As Obama prepared to put his pen to the new law, new government data underscored both the progress that has been made and the enduring need to do more.
Members of the 113th Congress’ Congressional Black Caucus
On Thursday the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation hosted a ceremonial swearing-in for the 113th Congress’ 42 CBC members.
Incoming chair Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio took the gavel from Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), and Judge Benita Y. Pearson of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio administered a ceremonial oath of office to the members. In addition to the formalities, the event was focused on urgent reminders about the caucus’s historic and still necessary role as the self-appointed “conscience of the Congress.”
In her remarks, Chairwoman Fudge reaffirmed the group’s commitment to advocating for policies that are not only in the best interest of people of color but also protect America’s most vulnerable populations. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer each echoed these sentiments when they took to the podium to welcome new members and thank the caucus for its legacy of service.