[Congressional Bills 118th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 8231 Introduced in House (IH)]


  2d Session
                                H. R. 8231

 To award a congressional gold medal to James Earl Jones, an American 
  icon, in recognition of a remarkable life in reshaping perceptions, 
dismantling racial barriers, and advocating for equal opportunities for 
             people of all backgrounds in film and theatre.



                              May 2, 2024

  Mr. Lawler (for himself, Mr. Torres of New York, and Mr. Molinaro) 
 introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on 
                           Financial Services


                                 A BILL

 To award a congressional gold medal to James Earl Jones, an American 
  icon, in recognition of a remarkable life in reshaping perceptions, 
dismantling racial barriers, and advocating for equal opportunities for 
             people of all backgrounds in film and theatre.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``James Earl Jones Congressional Gold 
Medal Act''.


    Congress finds the following:
            (1) James Earl Jones, born on January 17, 1931, in 
        Arkabutla Township, Mississippi, was raised largely by his 
        grandparents after his father left. Following the family's move 
        to Michigan, he developed a serious stutter that led to him 
        rarely speaking.
            (2) James Earl Jones started writing poetry while still in 
        school and used this to break free of his stutter. Inspired by 
        the grapefruit that the Federal Government gave to 
        Mississippians during the wartime shortage, Jones penned a poem 
        titled ``Ode to Grapefruit''. Jones continued to write, play, 
        and compete and as a result, he was awarded a scholarship to 
        the University of Michigan and won a public speaking 
            (3) Jones enlisted in the Army in 1953 and reported to Fort 
        Benning, Georgia, for Ranger School and the Officers Basic 
        Course. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Following 
        his training, Jones was tasked with assisting in the 
        establishment of a cold weather training command at the defunct 
        Camp Hale in Colorado.
            (4) Jones relocated to New York City and took a job as a 
        janitor to support himself while attending the American Theatre 
        Wing after receiving an honorable discharge as a first 
            (5) Jones' Broadway debut was in 1957, where he performed 
        in several Shakespeare plays, including Othello, Hamlet, 
        Coriolanus, and King Lear. In 1963, Jones received his first 
        major nomination, receiving a Primetime Emmy Awards nomination 
        for his role in ``East Side/West Side''.
            (6) ``Dr. Strangelove'', directed by Stanley Kubrick, was 
        Jones' feature picture debut.
            (7) Jones' performance in the play ``The Great White 
        Hope'', which was about the first Black heavyweight boxing 
        champion, earned him his first Tony Award in 1969.
            (8) Throughout his career, Jones has provided the voices of 
        well-known global characters, such as Mufasa in the animated 
        film ``The Lion King'' and Darth Vader in the ``Star Wars'' 
            (9) Throughout his professional life, Jones has been 
        nominated for two Academy Awards, five Tony Awards, eight 
        Primetime Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and five Golden 
        Globe Awards.
            (10) Jones is one of the rare performers to have received 
        an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). Jones was honored with 
        three Tony Awards, an Honorary Academy Award, a Grammy Award, 
        and two Primetime Emmy Awards.
            (11) In 1985, Jones was inducted into the American Theater 
        Hall of Fame.
            (12) In 1992, President George H.W. Bush and First Lady 
        Barbara Bush presented Jones with the National Medal of the 
        Arts at the White House in recognition of his career.
            (13) In 2002, Jones was selected to be a recipient of the 
        2002 Kennedy Center Honors for his contributions to the 
        cultural life of the Nation at the John F. Kennedy Center in 
        Washington, DC.
            (14) On May 12 2009, President and First Lady Obama invited 
        James Earl Jones to perform Shakespeare's ``Othello'' at the 
        White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word.
            (15) On September 12, 2022, the Cort Theatre, a Broadway 
        theater in the Theater District of Midtown Manhattan in New 
        York City, was renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre.
            (16) James Earl Jones has been recognized for his 
        independence, activism, and groundbreaking achievements and has 
        been described as one of the greatest actors in American 
            (17) James Earl Jones' career showcases talent and 
        resilience in an industry that historically faced challenges 
        related to representation.


    (a) Presentation Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of 
Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make 
appropriate arrangements for the presentation, on behalf of Congress, 
of a gold medal of appropriate design to James Earl Jones, in 
recognition of his contribution to the United States and his 
achievements of paving the way for inclusion and equal opportunities 
for people of all backgrounds in film and theatre.
    (b) Design and Striking.--For purposes of the presentation 
described in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (referred to 
in this Act as the ``Secretary'') shall strike a gold medal with 
suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions to be determined by the 
Secretary. The design shall bear an image of, and inscription of the 
name of, James Earl Jones.


    The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold 
medal struck pursuant to section 3 at a price sufficient to cover the 
costs of the medals, including labor, materials, dies, use of 
machinery, and overhead expenses.


    (a) National Medals.--Medals struck under this Act are national 
medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
    (b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 and section 
5136 of title 31, United States Code, all medals struck under this Act 
shall be considered to be numismatic items.


    (a) Authority To Use Fund Amounts.--There is authorized to be 
charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund such 
amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck 
under this Act.
    (b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate 
bronze medals authorized under section 4 shall be deposited into the 
United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.