Rep. John Lewis has been a leader in the civil rights movement
John Lewis is a shining example of the transforming power of ethical activism and leadership in his commitment to the ideals of justice and equality. Moving from the front lines of the civil rights movement to the corridors of the U.S. Congress is a reflection of his dedication to making America a "more perfect union." The fight for justice and equality in the United States remains motivated and directed by his legacy. His life and legacy demonstrate the effectiveness of "good trouble" in the pursuit of fairness over time.
John Lewis was a giant in the American civil rights movement and later a pillar of the Democratic Party in the United States Congress. His unwavering commitment to civil rights and his outstanding public service won him the title of "the conscience of Congress," a title that speaks to his leadership, fortitude, and moral authority.
Early Years and the Motivation to Take Action:
Lewis, who was born in rural Alabama in 1940, experienced early childhood in the context of Jim Crow segregation and systemic bigotry. He was moved to join the civil rights struggle after hearing about the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. while attending the American Baptist Theological Seminary and then Fisk University in Nashville.
Lewis was a pioneer in the civil rights movement when, in the early 1960s, he joined the other initial Freedom Riders to oppose segregation on interstate buses. He was also a key figure in the 1963 March on Washington and the seminal 1965 March Across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, widely known as "Bloody Sunday," in which he and other marchers were severely attacked by police.
In the 1980s, Lewis shifted his focus from the civil rights struggle to politics, where he has used that experience to inform his public service ever since. From 1986 until his death in 2020, he served as the representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district. As a legislator, he was well-known for fighting for racial equality and voting rights, as well as change in healthcare, education, and workers' rights.
Consistently brave and dedicated to the advancement of civil rights, Lewis left an indelible mark on the world. His influence on the American civil rights movement lives on. In 2011, President Obama honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his relentless advocacy of civil rights.