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Wed, 02.21.1940

John Lewis, Politician, and Activist born

John Lewis

*John Lewis was born on this date in 1940. He was a Black lawyer, politician, and activist.

John Robert Lewis was from Troy, Alabama, the son of a family of sharecroppers. He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama. At an early age, Lewis developed an unwavering commitment to the American Civil Rights Movement. He held a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University; and the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee.

For over fifty years, he was at the front line of progressive social movements and human rights struggles in the United States. Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee as a student.

In 1961, Lewis participated in the Freedom Rides for voter registration; and led the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNNC) in 1963.   He was an original marcher in the Bloody Sunday episode at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.   He was elected to represent Georgia in the House of Representatives in 1986.  Lewis dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing personal dignity, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community.”

His opinion on ethics and morality won him the respect of many of his colleagues in the United States Congress. Lewis received honorary degrees from Clark Atlanta University, Brandeis University, Columbia University, Fisk University, Morehouse College, Princeton University, and Williams College.

He received numerous awards, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize and the Medal of Freedom.  John Lewis died on July 18, 2020.

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