My mother and father and many of my relatives had been sharecroppers.
One day the world will hear my voice and follow my lead
John Lewis born February 21, 1940in Troy, Alabama
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically … No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
The action of Rosa Parks, the words and leadership of Dr. King inspired me. I was deeply inspired. I wanted to do something.
John Lewis was an African American civil rights leader and politician. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the mid-1960s and played a key role in the civil rights movement. Lewis served in the United States Congress for more than 30 years
Obtained Bachelor's degree in religion and philosophy
When I was a student, I studied philosophy and religion. I talked about being patient. Some people say I was too hopeful, too optimistic, but you have to be optimistic just in keeping with the philosophy of non-violence.
John Robert Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, near Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family’s farm, where his parents were sharecroppers.
We are one people; we are only family. And when we finally accept these truths, then we will be able to fulfill Dr. King's dream to build a beloved community, a nation, and a world at peace with itself.
The Jim Crow laws limited the freedom and opportunities for African American people. However, the activism of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., inspired Lewis to help change those laws.
Before we went on any protest, whether it was sit-ins or the freedom rides or any march, we prepared ourselves, and we were disciplined. We were committed to the way of peace - the way of non-violence - the way of love - the way of life as the way of living.
"If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it".
Lewis attended American Baptist Theological Seminary. Lewis attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rosa Parks inspired me to find a way to get in the way, to get in trouble... good trouble, necessary trouble.
He participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides, when whites and blacks rode buses together into the South to protest segregation
MLK, Jr. taught me how to say no to segregation, and I can hear him saying now... when you straighten up your back, no man can ride you. He said stand up straight and say no to racial discrimination
He became active in the civil rights movement and organized sit-ins at lunch counters and other segregated public places.
The vote is precious. It's almost sacred, so go out and vote like you never voted before. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.
Lewis was arrested and jailed many times in the nonviolent movement to desegregate the downtown area of the city
I studied the philosophy and the discipline ofnon-violence in Nashville as a student. And I staged a sitting-in in the fallof 1959 and got arrested the first time in February 1960.
In 1963 Lewis helped organize and spoke at the historic March on Washington, where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Although Lewis was still only in his early 20s, he was recognized as one of the Big Six leaders of the civil rights movement.
In 1964, Lewis coordinated SNCC's efforts for "Mississippi Freedom Summer," a campaign to register black voters across the South and expose college students from around the country to the perils of African-American life in the South. Lewis traveled the country encouraging students to spend their summer break trying to help people in Mississippi, the most recalcitrant state in the union, to register and vote
Black men and women were not allowed to register to vote. My own mother, my own father, my grandfather and my uncles and aunts could not register to vote because each time they attempted to register to vote, they were told they could not pass the literacy test.
Selma helped make it possible for hundreds and thousands of people in the South to become registered voters and encouraged people all across America to become participants in a democratic process.
A few days after Bloody Sunday, there was demonstration in more than 80 American cities. People were demanding that the government act.
Some of us gave a little blood for the right to participate in the democratic process.
You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way... to get in the way.
Register to Vote!!!
In 1965 Lewis led more than 600 peaceful protestors across a bridge in Selma, Alabama, in response to local violence against civil rights activists.
If someone had told me in 1963 that one day I would be in Congress, I would have said, 'You're crazy. You don't know what you're talking about.'
The protestors were attacked by law officers, and more than 50 people, including Lewis, were hospitalized. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The event helped pass the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed the many ways used to prevent African Americans from voting.
Non Violent Peace Prize
NAACP Spingarn Medal
After leaving SNCC in 1966, Lewis remained active in the civil rights movement. He became director of the Voter Education Project.In 1977 President Jimmy Carter put Lewis in charge of a federal volunteer agency that included the Peace Corps.
I think my whole life has been one of sort of daring, and sort of sailing against the wind instead of just going with the wind.
In 1981 Lewis was elected to the Atlanta city council. Five years later he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time.
If you're not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you're consistent, you will succeed.
Lewis received many honors and awards. He was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize in 1975, the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal in 2002, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Presidential Medal of Freedom
His memoirs are Walking with the Wind (1998; cowritten with Michael D’Orso) and the March trilogy (2013, 2015, and 2016; all cowritten with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell). The March trilogy is a graphic novel series for young adults.Lewis died on July 17, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia.