PARIS (CBS/AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has made American civil rights leader the Reverend Jesse Jackson a commander of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award.

Macron said Monday that Jackson’s activism helped “change the destiny of the United States” and with it, the world.

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“He is a visionary with a talent for uniting and leading people – with moral and physical courage which has helped him to overcome adversity and to change the destiny of the United States, our oldest ally, and to change our world for the better,” President Macron said.

Jackson had gallbladder surgery this year and is being treated for Parkinson’s disease, and the 79-year-old had visible difficulty walking during the ceremony in Paris.

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The founder of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition and two-time U.S. presidential candidate sat beside the podium as Macron called him “a visionary with talent for uniting and leading people.”

Jackson did not make any remarks after the French leader draped a medal around his neck and clasped his hand.

The reverend was awarded the highest civilian honor in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom – by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff