Tag : sonia sotomayor

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and director and  producer Steven Spielberg were among six people Wednesday to receive Harvard University’s highest honor in the field of African and African-American  studies.

Harvard honored its W.E.B. Du Bois medal winners at a ceremony Wednesday. The  medals have been awarded since 2000.

The Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research,  which presents the medals, credited Sotomayor with being the first Latina to  serve on the high court and for speaking frequently of her upbringing, helping  to influence and inspire children trying to succeed in the face of  adversity.

The medals were also given to senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett,  playwright Tony Kushner, Georgia civil rights activist and Rep. John Lewis  (D-Ga.), and NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Sotomayor said she was “deeply humbled” by the award.

“I am always reminded and continue to remember that I never stand alone because I do stand on the shoulders … of so many people in this room and  everyone who preceded me to open the door of opportunity,” Sotomayor said. “I  try to remember that paying forward is an obligation that I must not only undertake but that gives meaning to all our lives.”

The center cited Spielberg not only for his many filmmaking accomplishments  but also for his establishment of a foundation to record oral histories of those  who survived the Holocaust and other genocides. Those include the Righteous  Persons Foundation which provides grants to promote cooperation and  cross-cultural understanding among ethnically and religiously diverse groups  across America.

Spielberg, whose movie credits include “Lincoln” and “Amistad,” based on the  1839 mutiny of newly captured slaves, called the award “an incredible  honor.”

“This is a laurel upon which I promise not to rest but instead to keep moving  uphill because nothing gets done unless we’re all going uphill,” Spielberg said.  “When we get to the top maybe I’ll look down and say, well I earned it  then.”

Jarrett and Lewis were unable to attend the ceremony in Harvard’s Memorial  Hall.

Among those presenting the awards were Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and  former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell.