The Leadership Conference Celebrates Judy Shepard, Teresa Romero, and More Receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom

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WASHINGTONMaya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement celebrating recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom: 

“Today’s recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom represent some of the best of us and include those who have fought for equality and turned grief and adversity into organizing, coalition building, and advocacy. They know that our collective work for justice cannot be accomplished alone, but in solidarity and across communities. Judy Shepard, as the founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, has been an unwavering advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Teresa Romero, who leads the United Farm Workers, is the first Latina and first immigrant woman to become president of a national union in this country. These tireless advocates and the organizations they represent — which are members of The Leadership Conference coalition — continue to work alongside us for equity, inclusion, and civil and human rights for all.

“Judy Shepard has spent decades mobilizing communities across our country to advocate for LGBTQ+ people and to combat hate. Faced with the unfathomable tragedy of her son Matthew’s murder, the Shepard family found the strength to turn grief into action. The Leadership Conference was honored to fight alongside Judy and her husband Dennis to advocate for the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, critical legislation that has been instrumental in how we identify and combat hate in this country. Teresa Romero is widely respected and has demonstrated extraordinary leadership during her tenure as president of the United Farm Workers, including marching 335 miles from Delano to Sacramento in 2022 to achieve important victories for farm workers. We look forward to the continued partnership across communities to advance equality, dismantle the interconnected nature of hate, and fight for a multiracial democracy where we all thrive.

“We are also thrilled that the president is honoring civil rights icons Clarence Jones and Medgar Evers, whose incredible activism moved our nation forward and who continue to inspire all of us who believe in securing equality for all. As we approach the 60th anniversary of Freedom Summer amidst a consequential year for our democracy, we must remember the role Medgar Evers played in fighting for the right of Black Mississippians to vote and our ongoing work to ensure the freedom to vote across the nation. We must also never forget the role Clarence Jones played, and continues to play, including helping to draft Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — ushering in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which also turns 60 this year.

“We also recognize the tremendous leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman James Clyburn, who receive this honor after decades in Congress fighting for our civil rights and fundamental freedoms. We thank President Biden for lifting up these champions for justice.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 240 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit