John Lewis Timeline

John Lewis (1940-2020) was an influential American civil rights leader, politician, and activist. Born in Troy, Alabama, Lewis grew up in a segregated society and experienced firsthand the injustices of racial discrimination.

He became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement, known for his unwavering commitment to nonviolent protest and his tireless advocacy for equal rights.

Lewis played a pivotal role in historic events such as the Freedom Rides and the March on Washington, where he delivered a powerful speech.

Throughout his political career, including his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Lewis remained dedicated to fighting for social justice and combating inequality.

His courage, resilience, and lifelong commitment to the cause of civil rights made him a revered figure both in the United States and around the world.

Timeline of John Lewis

1940 – John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama

John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama. He grew up in a segregated society where racial discrimination was pervasive.

Also Read: Facts About John Lewis

Despite facing challenges, Lewis’s parents instilled in him a strong work ethic and a belief in the power of education.

1957 – Lewis studied nonviolent protest strategies and became involved in the civil rights movement

As a young student, Lewis attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. It was during this time that he became actively involved in the civil rights movement.

He studied the principles of nonviolent protest, inspired by figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

1961 – Lewis participated in the Freedom Rides

Lewis played a significant role in the Freedom Rides, a series of bus trips through the Southern United States to challenge segregation in interstate bus terminals.

Also Read: Accomplishments of John Lewis

The Freedom Riders faced violent opposition from white supremacists and were frequently arrested. Lewis himself was arrested multiple times for his participation in these protests, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to the cause.

1963 – Lewis helped organize the March on Washington and delivered a powerful speech

As the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis played a pivotal role in organizing the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

This iconic event took place on August 28, 1963, and drew approximately 250,000 people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Lewis, at the age of 23, was the youngest speaker and delivered a passionate speech advocating for civil rights and racial equality.

His words, including the famous line “We want our freedom, and we want it now,” resonated with the audience and the nation.

1965 – Lewis led the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday

One of the most significant events in Lewis’s life and the civil rights movement was the Selma to Montgomery march, also known as Bloody Sunday.

On March 7, 1965, Lewis and other activists led a peaceful march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery, demanding equal voting rights for African Americans.

However, they were met with brutal violence from state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The brutal beatings and use of tear gas against the peaceful demonstrators shocked the nation and galvanized support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

1981 – Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council

After years of community organizing and civil rights activism, John Lewis entered the world of politics. He was elected to the Atlanta City Council, marking the beginning of his political career.

In this role, Lewis worked to address issues such as poverty, affordable housing, and urban development, focusing on improving the lives of the residents of Atlanta.

1986 – Lewis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

Building on his local political success, John Lewis ran for and won a seat in the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district, which includes Atlanta and parts of the surrounding areas.

Lewis served in this position for over three decades, becoming one of the longest-serving African American members of Congress.

1991 – Lewis received the Profile in Courage Award

John Lewis received the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. This prestigious award recognized Lewis’s unwavering commitment to civil rights and his courageous stance in advocating for racial equality.

It highlighted his significant contributions to American society and the enduring impact of his activism.

2011 – Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama awarded John Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. This recognition highlighted Lewis’s remarkable achievements and the profound impact he had made as a civil rights leader and public servant.

It celebrated his lifelong dedication to fighting injustice and his tireless efforts to create a more equitable society.

2013 – Lewis published his memoir, “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement”

John Lewis published his memoir, “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement.” In this deeply personal and powerful book, Lewis recounted his experiences and reflections on the civil rights movement.

He shared stories of his childhood, his involvement in the movement’s pivotal moments, and his unwavering commitment to nonviolent protest. The memoir became a significant contribution to the historical documentation of the civil rights era and served as an inspiration to future generations.

2017 – Lewis boycotted the inauguration of President Donald Trump

In a notable act of protest, John Lewis boycotted the inauguration of President Donald Trump. He cited concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 election and the legitimacy of the election results.

Lewis’s decision to boycott the inauguration was seen as a powerful statement reflecting his values and principles, as well as his ongoing commitment to justice and accountability.

2020 – Lewis passed away on July 17, 2020, at the age of 80

On July 17, 2020, John Lewis passed away at the age of 80. His death was a tremendous loss to the nation, as he was widely revered as a civil rights icon and a champion of equality.

Lewis’s passing sparked an outpouring of grief and tributes from across the country, highlighting the lasting impact he had made on American society. He was honored with memorial services and tributes, including lying in state at the U.S. Capitol, a rare distinction bestowed upon few individuals.

These events showcase John Lewis’s extensive political career, the recognition he received for his contributions, and the profound impact he had on the civil rights movement and American politics. Despite his passing, Lewis’s legacy and teachings continue to inspire individuals around the world to fight for justice, equality, and a more inclusive society.