John Lewis

From New World Encyclopedia

John Lewis
John Lewis

House Democratic Senior Chief Deputy Whip
In office
January 3, 2003 – July 17, 2020
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by G. K. Butterfield

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1987 – July 17, 2020
Preceded by Wyche Fowler
Succeeded by Kwanza Hall

Member of the Atlanta City Council
from at-large post 18
In office
January 1, 1982 – September 3, 1985
Preceded by Jack Summer[1]
Succeeded by Morris Finley

3rd Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
In office
June 1963 – May 1966
Preceded by Charles McDew
Succeeded by Stokely Carmichael

Born February 21 1940(1940-02-21)
Troy, Alabama, U.S.
Died July 17 2020 (aged 80)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse Lillian Miles
(m. 1968; died 2012)
Children 1

John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 - July 17, 2020) was an American statesman and civil-rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district, which includes most of Atlanta, from 1987 until his death in 2020. Due to his length of service, he became the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation as well as a leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lewis fulfilled many critical roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States. He was one of the "Big Six" leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He became nationally known during his prominent role in the Selma to Montgomery marches when, on March 7, 1965 ("Bloody Sunday"), he and fellow activist Hosea Williams led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Lewis was well recognized for his many contributions to society, receiving numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


John Robert Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, just outside Troy, Alabama, the third of ten children of Willie Mae (née Carter) and Eddie Lewis.[2] His parents were sharecroppers[3] in rural Pike County, Alabama.

As a boy, Lewis aspired to be a preacher; and at age five, he was preaching to his family's chickens on the farm.[4]

As a young child, Lewis had little interaction with white people. In fact, by the time he was six, Lewis had seen only two white people in his life.[2] As he grew older, he began taking trips into town with his family, where he experienced racism and segregation, such as at the public library in Troy.[5][6] Lewis had relatives who lived in northern cities, and he learned from them that the North had integrated schools, buses, and businesses. When Lewis was 11, an uncle took him to Buffalo, New York, making him more acutely aware of Troy's segregation.[2]

In 1955, Lewis first heard Martin Luther King Jr. on the radio, and he closely followed King's Montgomery bus boycott later that year.[2] At age 15, Lewis preached his first public sermon.[4] Lewis met Rosa Parks when he was 17, and met King for the first time when he was 18.[7] After writing to King about being denied admission to Troy University in Alabama, Lewis was invited to a meeting. King, who referred to Lewis as "the boy from Troy," discussed suing the university for discrimination, but he warned Lewis that doing so could endanger his family in Troy. After discussing it with his parents, Lewis decided to proceed with his education at a small, historically black college in Tennessee.[8]

Lewis graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, and was ordained as a Baptist minister.[4] He then received a bachelor's degree in religion and philosophy from Fisk University. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.

Lewis met Lillian Miles at a New Year's Eve party hosted by Xernona Clayton. They married in 1968. Together, they had one son, named John-Miles Lewis. Lillian died on December 31, 2012.

On December 29, 2019, Lewis announced that he had been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.[9] He remained in the Washington D.C. area for his treatment. Lewis stated: "I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now."[10]

On July 17, 2020, Lewis died at the age of 80 after a six-month battle with the disease in Atlanta,[11] on the same day as his friend and fellow civil rights activist C.T. Vivian.[12] Lewis had been the final surviving "Big Six" civil rights icon.

Student activism and SNCC

Nashville Student Movement

Civil rights leaders meet with President John F. Kennedy after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963. Lewis is fourth from left.

As a student, Lewis was dedicated to the civil rights movement. He organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville and took part in many other civil rights activities as part of the Nashville Student Movement. The Nashville sit-in movement was responsible for the desegregation of lunch counters in downtown Nashville. Lewis was arrested and jailed many times in the nonviolent movement to desegregate the city's downtown area.[13]

During this time, Lewis expressed the need to engage in "good trouble, necessary trouble" to achieve change, and he held by the phrase and the sentiment throughout his life.[14]

While a student, Lewis was invited to attend nonviolence workshops held at Clark Memorial United Methodist Church by the Rev. James Lawson and Rev. Kelly Miller Smith. There, Lewis and other students became dedicated adherents to the discipline and philosophy of nonviolence, which he practiced for the rest of his life.[15]

Freedom Rides

They were seven blacks and six whites determined to ride from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans in an integrated fashion. At that time, several southern states enforced laws prohibiting black and white riders from sitting next to each other on public transportation. The Freedom Ride, originated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and revived by James Farmer and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), was initiated to pressure the federal government to enforce the Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia (1960) that declared segregated interstate bus travel to be unconstitutional. The Freedom Rides also exposed the government's passivity towards violence against law-abiding citizens. The federal government had trusted the notoriously racist Alabama police to protect the Riders, but did nothing itself, except to have FBI agents take notes. The Kennedy Administration then called for a cooling-off period, with a moratorium on Freedom Rides.[16]

In the South, Lewis and other nonviolent Freedom Riders were beaten by angry mobs and arrested. At age 21, Lewis was the first of the Freedom Riders to be assaulted while in Rock Hill, South Carolina. When he tried to enter a whites-only waiting room, two white men attacked him, injuring his face and kicking him in the ribs. Nevertheless, only two weeks later Lewis joined a Freedom Ride that was bound for Jackson, Mississippi. "We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back," Lewis said towards the end of his life about his perseverance following the act of violence.[17] Lewis was also imprisoned for 40 days in the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Sunflower County after participating in a Freedom Riders activity.[18]

In an interview with CNN during the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, Lewis recounted the amount of violence he and the 12 other original Freedom Riders endured. In Birmingham, the Riders were beaten with baseball bats, chains, lead pipes, and stones. They were arrested by police who led them across the border into Tennessee and let them go. They reorganized and rode to Montgomery, where they were met with more violence,[19] and Lewis was hit in the head with a wooden crate. "It was very violent. I thought I was going to die. I was left lying at the Greyhound bus station in Montgomery unconscious," said Lewis, remembering the incident.[20] When CORE gave up on the Freedom Ride because of the violence, Lewis and fellow activist Diane Nash arranged for the Nashville students to take it over and bring it to a successful conclusion.[21]

In February 2009, 48 years after he was bloodied in a Greyhound station during a Freedom Ride, Lewis received a nationally televised apology from a white southerner and former Klansman, Elwin Wilson.[22]

SNCC Chairmanship

Leaders of the March on Washington, 1963. Lewis is second from right.

In 1963, when Charles McDew stepped down as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis, one of the founding members of SNCC, was elected to take over.[23] Lewis's experience at that point was already widely respected. His courage and tenacious adherence to the philosophy of reconciliation and nonviolence made him emerge as a leader. He served as chairman until 1966.[24] During his tenure, SNCC opened Freedom Schools, launched the Mississippi Freedom Summer,[25] and organized some of the voter registration efforts during the 1965 Selma voting rights campaign.[26] As the chairman of SNCC, Lewis had written a speech in reaction to the 1963 Civil Rights Bill. The planned speech denounced the bill because it did not protect African Americans against police brutality or provide African Americans with the right to vote; it described it as "too little and too late." But when copies of the speech were distributed on August 27, other chairs of the march insisted that it be revised. James Forman re-wrote Lewis's speech on a portable typewriter in a small anteroom behind Lincoln's statue during the program. SNCC's initial assertion "we cannot support, wholeheartedly the [Kennedy] civil rights bill” was replaced with “We support it with great reservations."[27]

In 1963, as chairman of SNCC, Lewis was named one of the "Big Six" leaders who were organizing the March on Washington, the occasion of Martin Luther King's celebrated "I Have a Dream" speech, along with Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph, James Farmer, and Roy Wilkins.

At the great Washington March of 1963, the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis, speaking to the same enormous crowd that heard King's "I Have a Dream" speech, was prepared to ask the right question: 'Which side is the federal government on?' That sentence was eliminated from his speech by the other organizers of the March to avoid offending the Kennedy Administration. Lewis and his fellow SNCC workers had experienced the federal government's passivity in the face of Southern violence;[16]

Lewis begrudgingly acquiesced to the change in his speech[28] and delivered the edited speech as the fourth speaker that day, ahead of the "I Have a Dream" speech by King, who served as the final speaker that day.

Lewis in 1964

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 vote in Mississippi, the most recalcitrant state in the union.[29] Lewis became nationally known during his prominent role in the Selma to Montgomery marches when, on March 7, 1965 – a day that would become known as "Bloody Sunday" – Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. At the end of the bridge, they were met by Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with nightsticks. Lewis's skull was fractured, but he escaped across the bridge to Brown Chapel, a church in Selma that served as the movement's headquarters.[30] Lewis bore scars on his head from the incident for the rest of his life.[31]

Field Foundation, SRC, and VEP (1966–1977)

In 1966, Lewis moved to New York City to take a job as the associate director of the Field Foundation. He was there a little over a year before moving back to Atlanta to direct the Southern Regional Council's Community Organization Project. During his time with the SRC, he completed his degree from Fisk University.[2]

In 1970, Lewis became the director of the Voter Education Project (VEP), a position he held until 1977.[32] Though initially a project of the Southern Regional Council, the VEP became an independent organization in 1971. During Lewis's tenure, the VEP expanded its mission, including running Voter Mobilization Tours.[33] Despite difficulties caused by the 1973–1975 recession, the VEP added nearly four million minority voters to the rolls under Lewis's leadership.[34]

Early work in government (1977-1986)

In January 1977, incumbent Democratic U.S. Congressman Andrew Young of Georgia's 5th congressional district resigned to become the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. under President Jimmy Carter. In the election to fill his seat, Lewis ran against Atlanta City Councilman Wyche Fowler and lost. After this unsuccessful bid, Lewis accepted a position with the Carter administration as associate director of ACTION, responsible for running the VISTA program, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and the Foster Grandparent Program. He held that job for two and a half years, resigning as the 1980 election approached[2]

In 1981, Lewis ran for an at-large seat on the Atlanta City Council. He won and served on the council until 1986.

U.S. House of Representatives

Lewis greets President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan in 1987.

After nine years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Fowler gave up the seat to make a successful run for the U.S. Senate. Lewis decided to run for the 5th district again. In the August Democratic primary he narrowly lost to State Representative Julian Bond. In the run-off, Lewis pulled an upset against Bond, defeating him. In the November general election, Lewis defeated Republican Portia Scott.

Lewis was reelected 16 times. He ran unopposed in 1996, 2004, 2006, 2008, and again in 2014 and 2018. He was challenged in the Democratic primary just twice: in 1992 and 2008. In 1992, he defeated State Representative Mable Thomas. In 2008, Thomas decided to challenge Lewis again, as well and Markel Hutchins also contested the race. Lewis defeated both Hutchins and Thomas.


An official portrait of Lewis

Lewis represented Georgia's 5th congressional district, one of the most consistently Democratic districts in the nation. Since its formalization in 1845, the district has been represented by a Democrat for most of its history.

Lewis was one of the most liberal members of the House and one of the most liberal congressmen to have represented a district in the Deep South. Lewis characterized himself as a strong and adamant liberal. Lewis cited Florida Senator and later Representative Claude Pepper, a staunch liberal, as being the colleague whom he most admired.[35]

Lewis drew on his historical involvement in the Civil Rights Movement as part of his politics. He made an annual pilgrimage to Alabama to retrace the route he marched in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery – a route Lewis worked to make part of the Historic National Trails program. In later years, however, Faith and Politics Institute drew criticism for selling seats on the trip to lobbyists for at least $25,000 each.[36]


In January 2001, Lewis boycotted the inauguration of George W. Bush by staying in his Atlanta district. He did not attend the swearing-in because he did not believe Bush was the true elected president.[37]

In March 2003, Lewis spoke to a crowd of 30,000 in Oregon during an anti-war protest before the start of the Iraq War.[38] In 2006 and 2009 he was arrested for protesting against the genocide in Darfur outside the Sudanese embassy.[39] He was one of eight U.S. Representatives, from six states, arrested while holding a sit-in near the west side of the U.S. Capitol building, to advocate for immigration reform.[40]

2008 presidential election

Lewis speaks during the final day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado

In the 2008 presidential primaries, Lewis began by supporting Hillary Clinton. On February 14, 2008, however, he announced he was considering withdrawing his support from Clinton and might instead cast his superdelegate vote for Barack Obama: "Something is happening in America and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap."[41] On February 27, 2008, Lewis formally changed his support and endorsed Obama.[42]

After Obama clinched the Democratic nomination for president, Lewis said "If someone had told me this would be happening now, I would have told them they were crazy, out of their mind, they didn't know what they were talking about ... I just wish the others were around to see this day. ... To the people who were beaten, put in jail, were asked questions they could never answer to register to vote, it's amazing."[43]

On an African American being elected president, he said:

If you ask me whether the election ... is the fulfillment of Dr. King's dream, I say, "No, it's just a down payment." There's still too many people 50 years later, there's still too many people that are being left out and left behind.[44]

After Obama's swearing-in ceremony as president, Lewis asked Obama to sign a commemorative photograph of the event. Obama signed it, "Because of you, John. Barack Obama."[45]

2016 firearm safety legislation sit-in

House Democrats, led by Lewis, take the floor to begin a sit-in demanding gun safety legislation on June 22, 2016

On June 22, 2016, House Democrats, led by Lewis and Massachusetts Representative Katherine Clark, began a sit-in demanding House Speaker Paul Ryan allow a vote on gun-safety legislation in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Speaker pro tempore Daniel Webster ordered the House into recess, but Democrats refused to leave the chamber for nearly 26 hours.[46]

National African American Museum

In 1988, the year after he was sworn into Congress, Lewis introduced a bill to create a national African American museum in Washington. The bill failed, and for 15 years he continued to introduce it with each new Congress. Each time it was blocked in the Senate, most often by conservative Southern Senator Jesse Helms. In 2003, Helms retired. The bill won bipartisan support, and President George W. Bush signed the bill to establish the museum, with the Smithsonian's Board of Regents to establish the location. The National Museum of African American History and Culture, located adjacent to the Washington Memorial, held its opening ceremony on September 25, 2016.[47]

President Barack Obama hugs Lewis during a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches, March 7, 2015.

2016 presidential election

John Lewis at the 2017 Women's March in Atlanta

Lewis supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries against Bernie Sanders.

Lewis said that he would not attend Trump's inauguration because he did not believe that Trump was the true elected president: "It will be the first (inauguration) that I miss since I've been in Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right."[48]

In fact, Lewis had also failed to attend the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001 because he believed that he too was not a legitimately elected president.

2020 presidential election

Lewis endorsed Joe Biden for president on April 7, 2020, a day before he effectively secured the Democratic nomination. He recommended Biden pick a woman of color as his running mate.[49]


"Walking with the Wind"

Lewis's 1998 autobiography Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, co-written with Mike D'Orso, won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award,[50] the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Christopher Award, and the Lillian Smith Book Award. It appeared on numerous bestseller lists, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year,[51] was named by the American Library Association as its Nonfiction Book of the Year,[52] and was included among Newsweek magazine's 2009 list of "50 Books For Our Times."[53] It was critically acclaimed, with The Washington Post calling it "the definitive account of the civil rights movement."[54]

His life is also the subject of a 2002 book for young people, John Lewis: From Freedom Rider to Congressman.[55] In 2012, Lewis released Across That Bridge,[56] to mixed reviews. Publishers Weekly wrote, "At its best, the book provides a testament to the power of nonviolence in social movements… At its worst, it resembles an extended campaign speech."[57]


Lewis signing copies of March Book One (2013), the first volume of his graphic novel autobiography, at Midtown Comics in Manhattan

In 2013, Lewis became the first member of Congress to write a graphic novel, with the launch of a trilogy titled March, a black and white comic book trilogy about the Civil Rights Movement. The second and third volumes were published in 2015 and 2016 respectively.[58]

March: Book One became a number one New York Times bestseller for graphic novels[59] and spent more than a year on the lists.

March: Book One received an "Author Honor" from the American Library Association's 2014 Coretta Scott King Book Awards, which honors an African American author of a children's book.[60] Book One also became the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, receiving a "Special Recognition" bust in 2014.[61]

March: Book Two was released in 2015 and immediately became both a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller for graphic novels.

The release of March: Book Three in August 2016 brought all three volumes into the top three slots of the New York Times bestseller list for graphic novels for six consecutive weeks.[62] The third volume was announced as the recipient of the 2017 Printz Award for excellence in young-adult literature, the Coretta Scott King Award, the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2016 National Book Award in Young People's Literature,[63] and the Sibert Medal at the American Library Association's annual Midwinter Meeting in January 2017.[64]

The March trilogy received the Carter G. Woodson Book Award in the Secondary (grades 7–12) category in 2017.[65]

Lewis attended comics conventions to promote his graphic novel, most notably the San Diego Comic-Con, which he attended in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. During the 2015 convention, Lewis led, along with his graphic novel collaborators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, an impromptu simulated Selma civil rights march arm in arm with children, during which he wore the same clothes as he did on Bloody Sunday, garnering thousands of con goers to participate.[66] The event became so popular it was repeated in 2016 and 2017.


In 2018, Lewis and Andrew Aydin co-wrote another graphic novel as a sequel to the March series entitled Run. The graphic novel picks up the events in Lewis's life after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The authors teamed with award-winning comic book illustrator Afua Richardson for the book. Nate Powell, who illustrated March, also contributed to the art.[67]


John Lewis fulfilled many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States. He then served 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming a leader of the Democratic Party in the House. When presenting Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, President Obama addressed Lewis as the "conscience of the United States Congress," for his courage and unwavering commitment to justice.[68] Lewis penned an op-ed to the nation that was published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral. In it, he called on the younger generation to continue the work for justice and an end to hate.[69]

World leaders, politicians, and celebrities alike paid homage to this civil rights icon upon hearing the news of his death. President Donald Trump ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff in response to Lewis's death.[70] Condolences from the international community included statements from Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others, memorializing Lewis as "a titan in the struggle for civil rights, equality and freedom," and "an icon of the civil rights movement, a hero and an inspiration to us all."[71] Irish President Michael D. Higgins noted that "John Lewis leaves an enduring legacy not only in the US, but globally. His was a life filled with meaning that sought and promoted inclusion. The world was a better place for having him in it, and may his legacy live on."[72]

Public ceremonies honoring Lewis began in his hometown of Troy, Alabama at Troy University, which had denied him admission in 1957 due to racial segregation. Services were then held at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama. On July 26, 2020, his casket, carried by a horse-drawn caisson, traveled the same route over the bridge that he walked during the Bloody Sunday march from Selma to Montgomery, before his lying in state at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.[73]

Lewis's casket was then brought to Washington D.C. to lie in state in the United States Capitol Rotunda with a private ceremony followed by public viewing on July 27 and 28, the first African-American lawmaker to be so honored.[74] Health concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to a decision to have his casket displayed outdoors on the East Front steps during the public viewing hours, rather than the usual line of people in the Rotunda filing past the casket to pay their respects.[75][76]

On July 29, 2020, Lewis's casket left the U.S. Capitol and was transported back to Atlanta, Georgia, where he lay in state for a day at the Georgia State Capitol. Among the distinguished speakers at his final funeral service at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church were former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, who gave the eulogy. Former President Jimmy Carter, unable to travel during the COVID pandemic due to his advanced age, sent a statement to be read during the service. [77] Lewis's interment followed the service, at Atlanta's historic South-View Cemetery.[78]


Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Barack Obama in 2011

Lewis was honored by having the 1997 sculpture by Thornton Dial, The Bridge, placed at Ponce de Leon Avenue and Freedom Park, Atlanta, dedicated to him by the artist. In 1999, Lewis was awarded the Wallenberg Medal from the University of Michigan in recognition of his courageous lifelong commitment to the defense of civil and human rights. In that same year, he received the Four Freedoms Award for the Freedom of Speech.

In 2001, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation awarded Lewis the Profile in Courage Award "for his extraordinary courage, leadership and commitment to civil rights."[79] The next year he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.

John Lewis addressing audience in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 2013

In 2004, Lewis received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[80]

In 2006, he received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards. In September 2007, Lewis was awarded the Dole Leadership Prize from the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

In 2010, Lewis was awarded the First LBJ Liberty and Justice for All Award, given to him by the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, and the next year, Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.[68]

John Lewis with Frederick D. Reese and Terri Sewell at a 2016 Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring the March on Selma.

In 2016, Lewis and fellow Selma marcher Frederick Reese accepted Congressional Gold Medals which were bestowed to the "foot soldiers" of the Selma marchers.[81] The same year, Lewis was awarded the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center.[82] In 2020, Lewis was awarded the Walter P. Reuther Humanitarian Award by Wayne State University, the UAW, and the Reuther family.[83]

Lewis gave numerous commencement addresses, including at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in 2014, Bates College (in Lewiston, Maine) in 2016,[84] Bard College and Bank Street College of Education in 2017, and Harvard University in 2018.

Lewis receives an honorary degree from Brown University in 2012

Lewis was awarded more than 50 honorary degrees,[85] including:

  • Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (1989) from Troy State University (now Troy University)[86]
  • Honorary D.H.L. (2002) from Howard University
  • Honorary LL.D. degree (2007) from the University of Vermont[87]
  • Honorary LL.D. degrees (2012) from Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and the University of Connecticut School of Law
  • Honorary LL.D. degrees (2013) from Cleveland State University[88] and Union College
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters degree (2014) from Marquette University[89]
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees (2015) from the McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University and Lawrence University[90]
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (2015)from Hampton University[91]
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (2016) from Washington and Jefferson College[92]
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees (2017) from Yale University and Berea College[93]
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree (2017) from Bank Street Graduate School of Education[94]
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree (2019) from City College of New York[95]
  • Honorary Doctorate (2019) from Tulane University[96]


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  37. Kevin Merida, So Close, So Far: A Texas Democrat's Day Without Sunshine The Washington Post, January 21, 2001. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  38. Eric Lichtblau, Tens of Thousands March Against Iraq War The New York Times, March 16, 2003. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  39. U.S. lawmakers arrested in Darfur protests at Sudan embassy CNN, April 27, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  40. Democratic lawmakers arrested during immigration protest NBC News, October 8, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  41. Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy, Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama The New York Times, February 2, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  42. Civil rights leader John Lewis switches to Obama Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  43. Josephine Hearn, Black lawmakers emotional about Obama's success Politico, June 4, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  44. Lauren Carter, Rep. John Lewis reflects on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington The Grio, August 21, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  45. David Remnick, The President's Hero The New Yorker, January 26, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  46. Rachel Bade, Heather Caygle, and Ben Weyl, Democrats stage sit-in on House floor to force gun vote Politico, June 26, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  47. Peggy McGione, For Rep. John Lewis, African American Museum was a recurring dream The Washington Post, June 28, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  48. Nicholas Loffredo, John Lewis, Questioning Trump's Legitimacy, Among Dems Skipping Inauguration Newsweek, January 14, 2017. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  49. Mark Caputo, John Lewis endorses Biden Politico, April 7, 2020. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  50. 1999: John Lewis with Michael D'Orso Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  51. Notable Books of 1998 The New York Times. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  52. Deborah Straszheim, A Story Worth Telling Daily Press, April 20, 1999. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  53. Newsweek 50 Books for Our Times Library Thing. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  54. Mary McGrory, A Man of Consequence The Washington Post, June 14, 1998. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  55. Christine M. Hill, John Lewis: From Freedom Rider to Congressman (Enslow Pub Inc, 2002, ISBN 978-0766017689).
  56. John Lewis, Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change (Hyperion, 2012, ISBN 978-1401324117).
  57. Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change (review) Publishers Weekly. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  58. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, March (Trilogy) (Top Shelf Productions, 2016, ISBN 978-1603093958).
  59. Best Sellers: Paperback Graphic Books The New York Times, September 1, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  60. Coretta Scott King Book Awards – All Recipients, 1970–present American Library Association. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  61. Heidi MacDonald, March Book One is first graphic novel to win the RFK Book Award The Beat May 21, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  62. Paperback Graphic Books The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  63. Michael Cavna, Rep. John Lewis's National Book Award win is a milestone moment for graphic novels The Washington Post, November 17, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  64. Macey Morales, American Library Association announces 2017 youth media award winners American Library Association, January 30, 2017. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  65. Carter G. Woodson Book Award and Honor Winners National Council for the Social Studies. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  66. Joshua Rivera, Congressman and Civil Rights legend John Lewis went to Comic-Con dressed as a real-life hero: Himself Business Insider, July 15, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  67. Michael Rapoport, 'Run' Follows Award-Winning Graphic Novel 'March' in Civil-Rights Chronicle The Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  68. 68.0 68.1 Joshua Bote, Rep. John Lewis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. This is what Barack Obama said about him. USA Today, July 18, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  69. John Lewis, Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation The New York Times, July 30, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  70. William Mansell, Trump tweets he's 'saddened' by John Lewis' death, world leaders pay tribute ABC News, July 18, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  71. Tal Axelrod, International community pays homage to American civil rights icon John Lewis The Hill, July 18, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  72. Shane O'Brien, Irish president pays tribute to civil rights hero John Lewis Irish Central, July 19, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  73. Kimberly Maryland, Alabama honors the legacy of John Lewis Alabama News Center, July 27, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  74. Clare Foran, John Lewis is first Black lawmaker to lie in state in US Capitol Rotunda CNN, July 27, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  75. Daniella Byck, How to Pay Your Respects to Congressman John Lewis at the US Capitol Washingtonian, July 27, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  76. Kelly Sherin and Jack Holmes 30 Photos from John Lewis's Funeral at the United States Capitol Esquire, July 27, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  77. Sabrina Siddiqui, At John Lewis’s Funeral, Obama, Clinton and Bush Pay Tribute The Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  78. Stephanie Toone, What to know about the place where John Lewis will be buried The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 29, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  79. John Lewis John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  80. Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement American Academy of Achievement. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  81. Jonathan D. Salant, Selma civil rights marchers get Congressional Gold Medal with Booker's help The Star-Ledger, January 17, 2019. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  82. William Bender, John Lewis honored with the Liberty Medal The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 20, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  83. Wayne State, UAW honor civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis Wayne State University, February 5, 2020. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  84. Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis to deliver 2016 Commencement address, joining honorands Lisa Genova '92, Daniel Gilbert and Robert Witt '62 Bates News, April 1, 2016. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  85. The Honorable John Lewis The Gordon Parks Foundation. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  86. Life of Rep. John Lewis honored in Trojan Arena service Troy Today, July 27, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  87. Congressman John Lewis to Deliver 2007 Commencement Address University of Vermont. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  88. John Lewis Receives Honorary Doctorate from CSU Cleveland State University, December 16, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  89. Honorary Degrees: Congressman John Lewis Marquette University. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  90. Rick Peterson, Congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights Activist James Zwerg to Receive Honorary Degrees at Lawrence Commencement Lawrence University, March 5, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  91. Congressman John Lewis tells HU Graduates to 'Get in the Way' HU News, Hampton University, May 11, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  92. Lewis, Latif, Berko Gleason and Stofan to Receive Honorary Degrees at Commencement Washington & Jefferson College. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  93. Congressman John Lewis Inspires Graduates at Berea College Commencement Berea College, May 8, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  94. Congressman John Lewis Honored at Graduate School of Education Commencement Bank Street College of Education, May 30, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  95. U.S. Rep. John Lewis is CCNY Commencement speaker, May 31 Commencement honors for Edward Plotkin '53 City College of New York, May 8, 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  96. Tulane: honorary doctorates for Cook, Baquet, Danner, Lewis Associated Press, May 11, 2019. Retrieved September 2, 2020.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Carson, Clayborne (ed.). Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1963–1973, Part Two. Library of America, 2003. ISBN 978-1931082297
  • Hale, Jon N. The Freedom Schools: Student Activists in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Columbia University Press, 2018. ISBN 978-0231175692
  • Hill, Christine M. John Lewis: From Freedom Rider to Congressman. Enslow Pub Inc, 2002. ISBN 978-0766017689
  • Lewis, John. Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change. Hyperion, 2012. ISBN 978-1401324117
  • Lewis, John, and Michael D'Orso. Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. Simon & Schuster, 2015. ISBN 978-1476797717
  • Lewis, John, and Andrew Aydin. March (Trilogy). Top Shelf Productions, 2016. ISBN 978-1603093958
  • Scott, William R., and William G. Shade (eds.). Upon these Shores: Themes in the African-American Experience 1600 to the Present. Routledge, 1999. ISBN 978-0415924078
  • Zinn, Howard. You Can't Be Neutral on A Moving Train. Beacon Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0807071274

External links

All links retrieved August 3, 2022.

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by:
Charles McDew
Chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Succeeded by: Stokely Carmichael
United States House of Representatives

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Party Political Offices
Preceded by:
David Bonior
House Democratic Senior Chief Deputy Whip
Succeeded by: Cedric Richmond


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