Jessye Norman, internationally renowned opera singer and Augusta native, received the NAACP’s highest honor during the organization’s convention in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday night.
The Spingarn Medal was awarded to Norman for outstanding and noble achievement by an American citizen of African descent.
Civil rights activist and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., presented the award to Norman, who is the 98th recipient of the Spingarn Medal.
Norman was born at University Hospital on Sept. 15, 1945, and graduated from Lucy C. Laney High School in 1963. She made her operatic debut in 1969 and first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1983.
She pursued formal music training at Howard University, the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Michigan.
The soprano was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 1998, Norman returned home to Augusta for a benefit concert at First Baptist Church on Walton Way that was broadcast on PBS.
The Spingarn Medal was instituted in 1914 by the late J.E. Spingarn, then chairman of the NAACP board of directors. Past recipients include talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, poet and educator Maya Angelou, political and religious leader Jesse Jackson and baseball player Hank Aaron.