Living Legend Honorees

Living Legend Honorees

From Left to Right:

Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian – The LBJ Presidential Civil-Human Rights Legacy Award Honoree
C.T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country. Dr. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal. In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Alice Walker – The Fannie Lou Hamer Blessing Award
Alice Walker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning, African-American novelist and poet. She worked as a social worker, teacher and lecturer, and took part in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. Walker won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her 1982 novel, The Color Purple.

Major General Joseph McNeil (USAF Retired) – The LBJ Presidential Living Legend Award
Joseph McNeil was born in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1942. Joseph graduated from Williston Senior High School in 1959. McNeil and three other black students at North Carolina A&T University led the sit-ins that began on Feb. 1, 1960, at Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C., and galvanized youths to fight segregation nationwide. McNeil, who was also in ROTC, graduated in 1963 with a degree in engineering physics and was immediately commissioned by the U.S. Air Force. After working briefly as an investment banker, McNeil joined the Federal Aviation Administration but remained in the Air Force Reserve. In 2000, he retired from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of major general.

Honorable Mattie R. Sharpless – The LBJ Presidential Living Legend Award
Ambassador Sharpless has had a distinguished career in foreign agricultural trade relations, having served in a variety of positions in Washington and abroad since joining the Foreign Agricultural Service in 1965. Ambassador Sharpless was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to the Central African Republic on October 23, 2001, a position she held until June 2003.

Edolphus Towns – LBJ Presidential Living Legend Award
Edolphus Towns, Jr. is an American politician who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 2013. A Democrat from New York, Towns was Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from 2009 to 2011. During his 30 years in Congress, Towns represented districts based in Brooklyn: first New York’s 11th congressional district, from 1983 to 1993, and then the 10th district from 1993 to 2013.