Legacy of Leadership Award

Harry S. Truman Legacy of Leadership

Harry S. Truman Legacy of Leadership Award


Established in 2010 by the Truman Library Institute to honor the enduring legacy of America’s 33rd President and to recognize individuals who have a sustained and distinguished record of serving our nation and its democratic ideals, the award is presented each spring at the Truman Library Institute’s annual fund raising dinner, Wild About Harry.

The 2017 Harry S. Truman Legacy of Leadership Award honored Rep. James E. Clyburn and Rep. John Lewis.

Rep. James E. Clyburn

James Clyburn, Honoree

James Enos “Jim” Clyburn is the U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s Sixth Congressional District, serving since 1993, and the Assistant Democratic Leader since 2011. As Assistant Democratic Leader, he is the third-ranking Democrat in the House behind House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

Rep. Clyburn earned his early political stripes as a student leader at South Carolina State College during the early years of the Civil Rights Movement. In the aftermath of the Orangeburg massacre of 1968, when protesting students at South Carolina State were killed by police, Rep. Clyburn was appointed South Carolina’s human affairs commissioner. He served in this position until 1992, when he stepped down to run for Congress.

Rep. Clyburn is the leadership liaison to the Appropriations Committee, one of the Democratic Caucus’ primary liaisons to the White House and Chair of the recently formed House Democrats’ Democratic Outreach & Engagement Task Force. He was recently described by President Obama as “one of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens.”

Rep. John Lewis

John Lewis

John Lewis, Honoree

Called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” U.S. Rep. John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he calls “the beloved community” in America.

His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The son of sharecroppers, Rep. Lewis volunteered in 1961 to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. From 1963 to 1966, Rep. Lewis served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which he helped form. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in 1963.

Rep. Lewis was elected to Congress in 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then. He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

Past Award Recipients

2010      James A. Baker, III
2011      Christopher “Kit” Bond
2012      Dr. Robert M. Gates
2013      General Richard B. Myers
2014      Dr. Donna E. Shalala
2015      The Hon. Robert J. Dole
2016      Dr. Henry A. Kissinger
2017      Rep. James Clyburn & Rep. John Lewis