John Lewis (D-GA-5)i

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John Lewis, Congressman Georgia District 5

House links: John Lewis (D-GA-5)i

Campaign links: John Lewis (D-GA-5)i

 

John Robert Lewis

John Lewis 2014 Congressional Candidate Georgia District 5

 

Biography of John Lewis from House.gov

Often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress.

The Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi has called Rep. Lewis “the conscience of the U.S. Congress.” And Roll Call magazine has said, “John Lewis…is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.”

He was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama. As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.

As a student at American Baptist College, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Lewis risked his life on those Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

During the height of the Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the Movement, including sit-ins and other activities.

While still a young man, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. (The others were Whitney Young, A. Phillip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer and Roy Wilkins). At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and his participation in the Southern Regional Council’s voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP). Under his leadership, the VEP transformed the nation’s political climate by adding nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls.

In 1977, John Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. While serving on the Council, he was an advocate for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then. That District includes the entire city of Atlanta, Georgia and parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and Chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

John Lewis holds a B.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University, and he is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary, both in Nashville, Tennessee. He has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Spelman College, Princeton University, University of New Hampshire, Johnson C. Smith University, Delaware State University Duke University, Morehouse College, Clark-Atlanta University, Howard University, Brandeis University, Columbia University, Fisk University, Williams College, Georgetown University, and Troy State University.

John Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards from imminent national and international institutions, including the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence, the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the President’s Medal of Georgetown University, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award, and the only John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage Award” for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. The Timberland Company has developed the John Lewis Award, which honors the Congressman’s commitment to humanitarian service by acknowledging members of society who perform outstanding humanitarian work. And the company has established a John Lewis Scholarship Fund.

John Lewis authored his biography with writer Michael D’Orso, entitled Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement (June, 1998). In 2006, two other books were written about his life: Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement, by Ann Bausum and John Lewis in the Lead , by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson, with illustrations by famous Georgia artist, Bennie Andrews. John Lewis has also been featured in many books about the civil rights movement, including The Children by David Halberstam and the Taylor Branch series on the Movement. He has been interviewed for numerous documentaries, news broadcasts, and journals, including the Eyes on the Prize, the Today Show, CNN Headline News, CNN’s American Morning, CSPAN’s Washington Journal, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine The New Yorker, Parade Magazine, American Profile, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Tribune, Roll Call magazine, Congressional Quarterly and many more.

John Lewis lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is married to Lillian Miles. They have one son, John Miles.

Biography of John Lewis from John Lewis for Congress

John R. Lewis, the son of Alabama sharecroppers, was born February 21, 1940, just outside of Troy, Alabama. He grew up in a time when African Americans in the South were subjected to a humiliating segregation in education and all public facilities, and were effectively prevented from voting by systematic discrimination and intimidation. While attending segregated public schools in Pike County, Lewis was compelled into action. The message came by radio broadcast. It was the voice of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr._ calling all to boycott the Montgomery Bus system following the arrest of Rosa Parks. The Montgomery Bus Boycott has been written into history as the major pivotal point in the Civil Rights Movement by means of non-violence.

As John Lewis began to hear his calling clearer and clearer he furthered his education by attending the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee and later earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University. As a student, he undertook a systematic study of the techniques and philosophy of nonviolence, and with his fellow students, prepared thoroughly for their first actions. Lewis, unwavering dynamic influence over his peers allowed him the opportunity to start organizing students and others to join the Civil Rights Movement following the direction of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As the movement continued to gain momentum John Lewis joined the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that would forefront the student action effort against Jim Crow across America.

From the Bus Boycott in Montgomery John Lewis continued to find a way to get in the way. While studying at Fisk University, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee and volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides across the south, challenging segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. Between the Sit-In demonstration and Freedom Rides Lewis confronted the injustice of Jim Crow segregation head on. Lewis was arrested more that 40 times, attacked by angry mobs, and severely beaten by the police, often for simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons.

These continuous brutal and racist physical attacks culminated on March 7, 1965, a cool spring day in Selma, Alabama and became the center of national attention. Hosa Williams, a close friend and fellow civil rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful and orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma toward Montgomery. Not knowing what lay ahead the organized marchers were met at the end of the bridge by an arsenal of Alabama armed police officers. Ordering the turnaround of the marchers, right to demonstrate, the mob of shielded-gasmask wearing police officers wreaked havoc on the peaceful demonstrators. The police force swarmed the protestor with their rage of racism, engaging the two single-file lines of demonstrators with police dogs, tear gas, and knight sticks. Later to be known as “Bloody Sunday” the march made the cover of Time Magazine under the headline “The Salvage Season Begins.” The images of brutal armed police officers viciously attacking unarmed peaceful protesters who, instead of fighting back, held their ground by falling to their hands and knees and covering their heads to protect themselves from the beatings of government issued knight sticks sped across America,s headlines the next day. News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Serving as the president of the SNCC from 1963 to 1966, John Lewis was recognized as one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement along with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Whitney Young, A. Phillip Randolph, James Farmer and Roy Wilkins. Continuing the fight against Jim Crow, Lewis helped coordinate and delivered the Keynote address at the historic March on Washington in August 1963, where Dr. King’s gave the historical “I Have a Dream” speech. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and through his participation in the Southern Regional Council’s voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP) and under his leadership, the VEP transformed the nation’s political climate by adding nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls.

Since the days of Jim Crow, John Lewis has devoted his life to serving his community and his country, gaining his first political office in Atlanta’s City Hall as an Atlanta city council member in 1982. Four years later in 1986, Lewis was elected to the United States Congress serving as Representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District which encompasses the entire city of Atlanta, and parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. Often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” John Lewis has dedicated himself to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress. The Leader of the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called Rep. Lewis “the conscience of the U.S. Congress.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has said, “I’ve seen courage in action on many occasions. I can’t say I’ve seen anyone possess more of it, and use it for any better purpose and to any greater effect, than John Lewis.” And Roll Call magazine has said, “John Lewis is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.”

John Lewis has been awarded numerous honorary degrees and other honors from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Fisk University, Morehouse College, Spellman College, Clark-Atlanta University, Howard University, Princeton University, Duke University, Brandeis University, Columbia University, Williams College, the University of Texas, Georgetown University, and Harvard University. Additionally, John Lewis has honored by numerous imminent national and international institutions receiving numerous awards including the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence, the Preservation Hero Award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the President’s Medal of Georgetown University, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage Award” for lifetime achievement, and the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award. The Timberland Company has developed the John Lewis Award, which honors humanitarian service and has established a John Lewis Scholarship Fund. Beyond his scholarly and institutional recognitions John Lewis has authored a biography with writer Michael D’Orso, entitled Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement (June, 1998) and has been featured in many news broadcasts and journals, including the Today Show, CNN Headline News, Washington Journal, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, Parade Magazine, American Profile, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Tribune, Roll Call magazine, Congressional Quarterly and many more.

In one recent interview with Time Magazine John Lewis was asked “What do you see as the role of America is in the 21st century regarding ethnicity around the world?” Rep. John Lewis simply replied that,” America as a nation and as a great nation, and we as a great people, could emerge as a model for the rest of the world. We could find a way to say to the rest of the world that we’re prepared to lay down the burden of race, that we’re prepared to create the beloved community and say to our own citizens and the citizens of the world, as Dr. King said, “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish as fools.” The world must believe that we are ready to create the beloved community.”

Today, John Lewis lives in Atlanta, Georgia and is married to Lillian Miles. They have one son, John Miles.

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