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Columbia man's lifetime of civil rights work, ministry honored

Bishop James, 98, served on the White House and State Advisory boards, including being a dignitary at the signing of the Voting Rights Bill in 1965.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Bishop Frederick James was honored on Thursday with the Leon A. Love Lifetime Award for his work for civil rights.

The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission and ColumbiaSC 63 honored him at his home Thursday afternoon.

Bobby Donaldson is a professor of history and the elite scholar for ColumbiaSC 63.

"We're here to honor a legendary minister and civil rights leader named Bishop Frederick Calhoun James who is 98-years-old. He's had a lifetime of work in the ministry and civil rights so the commission today extended to him the Leon Love Lifetime Achievement Award," said Donaldson.

Bishop James was born in Prosperity, SC.

He received his bachelor's degree from Allen University and got his master's of divining degree at Howard University School of Religion.

He spent time as a minister in Winnsboro, Columbia, Sumter and many other places across the world.

ColumbiaSC 63 said in a press release, "In 1963, he became president of the Effective Sumter Movement where his assisted with student demonstrations and the Freedom Rides."

The 98-year-old minister served on the White House and State Advisory boards, including being a dignitary at the signing of the Voting Rights Bill back in 1965.

Bishop James also worked closely with civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and John Lewis.

Back in 2003, Bishop James received the state's highest award, "The Order of the Palmetto," for his work in South Carolina.

"He's one of those people on the front lines of many of the struggles over two generations ago and so we honor him for being a path breaker and we honor him for the important work he's done over 70 years," explained Donaldson.

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The bishop says receiving this award is a big deal and fulfilling for him.

"It receives a type of fulfillment that I couldn't receive without it. The fulfillment of appreciation of the attempt to persevere along the path of righteousness," said Bishop James.

Bishop James has this advice for the younger generation.

"God gave you the opportunity of life. Don't abuse it," explained Bishop James. "If you do not recognize that God is responsible for life, you're missing part of what it is to live and to be among the living."

"I would really like my legacy to be that I tried to major in righteousness in the sight of God."

RELATED: Tributes to Rep. John Lewis shared by civil rights luminaries, colleagues, celebrities across the globe

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