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The Honorable John Lewis

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Information about The Honorable John Lewis

Profile image of The Honorable John Lewis

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Leader
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Sweet Pototo Pie
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Pace yourself. Pace yourself.

Birthplace

Born:
2/21/1940
Birth Location:
Troy, Alabama

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Leader
U.S. Congressman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Sweet Pototo Pie
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
Pace yourself. Pace yourself.

Birthplace

Born:
2/21/1940
Birth Location:
Troy
See how The Honorable John Lewis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Congressman John Lewis rose from abject poverty to become one of America's leaders. He has been at the forefront of progressive social and political causes for more than forty years. Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama, to the sharecroppers Eddie Lewis and Lillian Miles. Growing up, Lewis and his nine siblings worked regularly on his family's farm, frequently in lieu of attending the county's segregated schools.

Without his family's knowledge, Lewis became involved in the Civil Rights Movement as a student at the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, where he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In February 1960, Lewis helped spark a successful sit-in movement at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, on the heels of sit-ins in Greensboro, N.C. In 1961, Lewis volunteered to become a member of the Freedom Riders. Lewis risked his life and was beaten several times by white mobs for his participation.

Lewis served as chairman of SNCC from 1963-65. As chairman, he was recognized as one of the "Big Six" of the Civil Rights Movement (along with Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Phillip Randolph, Whitney Young, James Farmer, and Roy Wilkins) who met with President Kennedy to discuss the planning of the "March on Washington". In 1963, at the age of twenty-three, he was a keynote speaker at this historic event. In 1964, under the auspices of SNCC, Lewis helped coordinate and organize the successful "Mississippi Freedom Summer".

In 1965, Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led "Bloody Sunday", one of the most dramatic nonviolent protests of the Movement. The publicity surrounding "Bloody Sunday" and the subsequent march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama led President Lyndon Johnson to push for the Voting Rights Act, passed by Congress on August 6, 1965.

Lewis was elected to his first governmental office in 1981, serving as an Atlanta City Council member until 1986. He then was elected to represent Georgia's 5th Congressional District. Lewis is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Committee to Support Writers and Journalists. Since 1991, Lewis has served as Chief Deputy Democratic Whip. Lewis co-authored Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement with Michael D'Orso in 1998.

He and his wife Lillian, the Director of External Affairs for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Clark Atlanta University, live in Atlanta with their two sons.

See how The Honorable John Lewis is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John Lewis interview, part 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John Lewis's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John Lewis describes his father's background, part I
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John Lewis describes his father's background, part II
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John Lewis details his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John Lewis describes his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John Lewis remembers his childhood on his family's farm
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John Lewis describes episodes in his childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John Lewis remembers his childhood in the segregated South
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John Lewis remembers time spent with extended family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John Lewis details his college plans
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. influences John Lewis's consciousness
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John Lewis details how the Civil Rights Movement spread from black colleges to white colleges
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John Lewis describes Jim Lawson's efforts to end segregation with nonviolence
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John Lewis discusses Jim Lawson's philosophy of nonviolence
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John Lewis reveals how sexism hindered black women's roles in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John Lewis describes his family's response to his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John Lewis remembers episodes from the Freedom Rides
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John Lewis describes the courage of the Freedom Riders
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of John Lewis interview, part 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John Lewis describes a dangerous episode for the Freedom Riders
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John Lewis remembers an attack on the Freedom Riders at bus station in Birmingham
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John Lewis recalls a mob trapping activists in a Montgomery church
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John Lewis discusses the origins of the Freedom Rides
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John Lewis discusses the government's support for the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John Lewis discusses his appointment to the chairmanship of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John Lewis remembers the leadership of A. Philip Randolph
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John Lewis discusses the role of young people in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John Lewis describes the leadership behind the March on Washington
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John Lewis remembers the success of the March on Washington