With the presentation of a small blue box, the African American Museum in Philadelphia received a giant national treasure Tuesday as it was lent the Congressional Gold Medal bestowed on Rosa Parks, known as the mother of the modern civil rights movement.
"We could not be more honored than to have this piece of history here with us at our own African American Museum in Philadelphia," Mayor Nutter said of the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress. It was given to Parks in 1999.
In a brief ceremony, Curtis Dean, former general manager of the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, lent the medal to the museum to augment an exhibit of portraits of civil rights pioneers.
Former Freedom Riders remember the struggles
The anger that led Lewis Zuchman and Luvaghn Brown to self-destructive moments as teenagers ultimately fueled their dedication to a movement.
Zuchman grew up white and Jewish in New York. He quit college and served time in jail before he was 19. Brown, an African American in segregated Mississippi, ran away from an abusive family life and was prone to raise his fists in an instant.
They met as teenage Freedom Riders in the early 1960s, part of a historic nonviolent movement that helped force the desegregation of transportation services in the South.
"It was a reasonable way to fight what I wanted to fight all along but didn't know how," said Brown, now 67.