On today’s date in 1990, President George Bush (Bush41, not Bush43) granted Olympic sprinter and pack-a-day smoker Jesse Owens a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal, which is synonymous with the Presidential Medal of Freedom as the highest civilian honor one can receive in the United States.
Slightly off the point here is that, while the President ANNOUNCES and gives the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the actual granting of it is born of acts of congress, and both houses are required to put it through. With that said, George H. W. Bush might have delivered the medal – to Owens’ FAMILY, I might infer – he was just the messenger in such.
The Congressional Gold Medal is given for outstanding accomplishment in the name of the US, and I am willing to bet that Owens’ showing up Hitler at the Berlin Olympics despite the irony of being a sprinter who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 35 years was the only necessary qualifier. Modifiers to even THAT would be the fact that he couldn’t even VOTE in his own damned country.
So there we have it, the precedent of Bush family members recognizing black people for their contributions are not foreign, it seems. And for that, we thank at least one of them, and we still thank James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens.