Iconic Civil Right Leader, John Lewis Has Died, 80

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Rep. John R. Lewis, the civil rights icon whose fight for racial justice began in the Jim Crow south and ended in the halls of Congress, died Friday night.

The son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis served in Congress for more than three decades, pushing the causes he championed as an original Freedom Rider challenging segregation, discrimination and injustice in the Deep South – issues reverberating today in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Along with Martin Luther King Jr., he was an organizer of the March on Washington in 1963, a seminal moment in the Civil Rights Movement that led to the passage of voting rights for Blacks two years later.

He became a community activist and member of the Atlanta City Council before winning a seat in Congress in 1986. He would go on to become a best-selling author and in 2011 was awarded the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president. Lewis was elected to his 17th term in November 2018.

FREEDOM FIGHTER
JOHN LEWIS

“(A)ll these years later, he is known as the Conscience of the United States Congress, still speaking his mind on issues of justice and equality,” Obama said in 2011, as he was bestowing the Medal of Freedom. “And generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind – an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now.”

A national figure at an early age

Apart from the Freedom Riders, a group of black and white civil rights activists who rode interstate buses to fight segregation across the South, Lewis was one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which advocated for civil rights with demonstrations at lunch counters and voter-registration drives.

After four African American college students sat down on Feb. 1, 1960, at a whites-only lunch counter at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina, Lewis helped organize similar sit-ins around the South that drew national attention to the rampant racism that pervaded southern states. READ MORE

Arrested, jailed and beaten for challenging Jim Crow laws, Lewis would become a national figure by his early 20s. He later became the youngest of the Big Six civil rights leaders and, at 23, helped organize the March on Washington. There, he provided a keynote speech at the landmark event for civil rights.AMIBC® - VOTE! BE COUNTED! BE HEARD!

SOURCE ⇒ USATODAY


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