John Lewis

John Lewis Civil Rights Leader & Member of “The Big Six”
John Lewis is not known as a writer, but he did receive the National Book Award in 2016 as the co-author of the third volume of the graphic novel series, March. This was the first time a graphic novel earned the award in the 70 years of remuneration by the National Book Foundation. Among the many renown accomplishments of Lewis are his work in the Civil Rights Movement and the US House of Representatives.

As a college student, the young John Lewis helped orchestrate many of the tent pole events of the Civil Rights Movement. He was an organizer of the Freedom Riders, who traveled the United States on bus routes to occupy illegal whites-only stores, restaurants, and bathrooms. He helped with the establishment of Freedom Schools throughout the US to help educate minority children who were not being given equal education. He was also an organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Project that helped black Mississippians register to vote.

Lewis was also on the front lines of the infamously named “Bloody Sunday.” Lewis and other activists were peacefully protesting the murder of Alabama activist Jimmie Lee Jackson at the hand of an Alabama State Trooper. They planned to March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, but were met with violence. Lewis sustained a fractured skull and was hospitalized before the protest reached its destination. John Lewis is recognized as one of the Big Six, the most important leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. He was the youngest to share the stage on the day that MLK gave the world renown “I Have a Dream” speech. The speech that John Lewis delivered at the March on Washington can be read here.

These are only a few of the important accomplishments of Lewis’s long and storied life. He continued his activism along with a career in politics, as he served the State of Georgia’s fifth district in the US House of Representatives from 1986 until his death in July 2020.

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