Edward M. Kennedy will receive a posthumous award for his decades of work on behalf of civil rights and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., the King Center said today.
"No US senator worked harder to secure the kind of social, economic and humanitarian reforms needed to fulfill my father's dream," said Martin Luther King III, president of the center, in a statement.
The Salute to Greatness award is an annual honor but this year's commemoration also recognizes the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday. Kennedy was a leading sponsor of the congressional measure declaring the holiday.
Kennedy's first major speech on the Senate floor was in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, Kennedy is credited with preserving many civil rights acts of the '60s -- including the Voting Rights Act -- from the Reagan administration's attempts to dismantle them.
Kennedy died of brain cancer in 2009. His widow, Victoria Kennedy, will accept the award at a dinner Jan. 15 at the center in Atlanta.
Also, the center announced that the winners of the corporate award will be Ben and Jerry’s, with co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield accepting the award. The firm is based in Vermont.
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