Sotomayor, Spielberg win Harvard Du Bois medals

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.

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.”

The medals were also given to senior presidential adviser

Valerie Jarrett, playwright Tony Kushner, Georgia civil rights

activist and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, and NBA Commissioner David


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.