10 Facts About John Lewis

John Lewis was an influential American civil rights leader, politician, and author. Born in Troy, Alabama, in 1940, Lewis dedicated his life to fighting for equality, justice, and civil rights for all Americans.

He played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement as one of the “Big Six” leaders, standing alongside figures like Martin Luther King Jr. Lewis was a passionate advocate for nonviolent protest and actively participated in sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and other demonstrations against racial segregation.

His unwavering commitment to justice led him to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served Georgia’s 5th congressional district for 17 terms. Lewis continued his fight for voting rights, healthcare reform, and social justice throughout his career.

His powerful memoirs, such as “Walking with the Wind,” and the graphic novel trilogy “March,” documented his experiences and continue to inspire generations.

John Lewis’s enduring legacy serves as a reminder of the importance of perseverance, courage, and peaceful resistance in the pursuit of equality.

John Lewis Facts

1. John Lewis was an American civil rights leader and politician

John Lewis was an American civil rights leader and politician. He dedicated his life to fighting for equality, justice, and civil rights for all Americans.

Also Read: John Lewis Accomplishments

His unwavering commitment to these causes made him one of the most prominent and respected figures of the civil rights movement.

Lewis was deeply passionate about ensuring equal rights and opportunities for African Americans and played a crucial role in shaping the course of the movement.

2. He was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama

Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama. Growing up in the deeply segregated South, he experienced firsthand the injustices and discrimination faced by African Americans on a daily basis.

Also Read: Timeline of John Lewis

These early experiences had a profound impact on Lewis and fueled his determination to challenge racial inequality.

3. Lewis was one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement

As one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement, Lewis stood alongside other influential figures such as:

  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • James Farmer
  • A. Philip Randolph
  • Roy Wilkins
  • Whitney Young

Together, they formed a coalition of organizations and leaders dedicated to achieving civil rights reforms and ending racial segregation in the United States.

The collective efforts of the “Big Six” were instrumental in shaping the strategies, organizing protests, and advocating for legislative changes that propelled the civil rights movement forward.

John Lewis played a vital role within this group, contributing his energy, leadership, and unwavering commitment to nonviolent resistance.

4. He participated in the 1963 March on Washington and delivered a notable speech

One of the most significant events in which Lewis played a crucial role was the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At the age of 23, he was the youngest speaker at the historic gathering, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Lewis passionately addressed the crowd, advocating for civil rights and equality. His speech emphasized the importance of taking a stand against injustice and inequality, leaving a lasting impact on the audience and the broader civil rights movement.

5. Lewis advocated for nonviolent protest and fought against racial segregation.

Lewis was a strong advocate for nonviolent protest and played an active role in organizing and participating in various demonstrations aimed at ending racial segregation and promoting civil rights. He believed in the power of peaceful resistance as a means to bring about social change.

Lewis took part in sit-ins, where African Americans would occupy segregated establishments to protest against discriminatory practices. He also participated in Freedom Rides, which were integrated bus journeys challenging segregated interstate travel.

These acts of civil disobedience were pivotal in raising awareness about the injustices faced by African Americans and highlighting the need for desegregation.

6. He was brutally beaten during the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches

During the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches, John Lewis experienced a harrowing and violent incident that left a lasting impact on the civil rights movement.

On March 7, 1965, a day that became known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lewis and fellow activists, including Hosea Williams, led a peaceful march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, demanding voting rights for African Americans.

As they crossed the bridge, they encountered a line of state troopers and county possemen armed with batons, tear gas, and horses. Without warning, the troopers brutally attacked the nonviolent protesters, using tear gas and wielding their batons with force.

Lewis, among others, suffered severe beatings and head injuries from the violent assault. The images of the bloodshed and the valiant resilience of the marchers shocked the nation and galvanized support for the voting rights cause.

7. Lewis served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district

In 1986, John Lewis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Georgia’s 5th congressional district. He embarked on a political career that spanned 17 terms, making him one of the longest-serving African American members of Congress.

During his time in Congress, Lewis continued to be a tireless advocate for civil rights, social justice, and equality. He utilized his position to push for legislative reforms and championed causes related to voting rights, affordable healthcare, gun control, LGBTQ+ rights, and immigration reform.

8. He championed voting rights, healthcare reform, and social justice

Lewis was a vocal advocate for voting rights throughout his congressional career. He staunchly opposed efforts to restrict access to the ballot box and fought to ensure that every American citizen had equal and unimpeded access to vote.

Lewis was a key figure in the push to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act in 2006, which aimed to safeguard voting rights and prevent discriminatory practices.

9. Lewis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama

Throughout his life, Lewis received numerous awards and honors for his tireless activism and leadership. One of the most significant honors came in 2011 when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

President Barack Obama presented Lewis with the medal, recognizing his lifelong dedication to equality and justice.

10. He authored the memoir “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement”

As an accomplished author, John Lewis shared his experiences and wisdom through his books. His memoir, “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement,” published in 1998, provided a powerful firsthand account of his involvement in the civil rights movement and became widely acclaimed.

Lewis also co-wrote a graphic novel trilogy called “March,” which vividly depicted his journey and the struggle for civil rights. The series received critical acclaim and played a significant role in educating and inspiring younger generations about the civil rights movement.