US Congressman and Civil Rights Pioneer John Lewis Featured at DNC

Posted September 6th, 2012 at 7:40 pm (UTC-5)
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One of the most passionate speakers at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night was African-American U.S. Congressman John Lewis of the southern state of Georgia, a leader of the nation's civil rights movement.

Born in 1940 in rural Alabama, Lewis grew up on his family's farm and attended segregated public schools. He became active in the fight for racial equality after being inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.

Lewis was a founder and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and by 1963, he became recognized as one of the Big Six leaders of the civil rights movement along with King.

At the age of 23, Lewis helped organize the historic 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. Lewis also addressed the crowd as the event's youngest speaker. Two years later, Lewis co-led a march for voting rights in Alabama that culminated in an attack by Alabama state troopers. The incident, dubbed “Bloody Sunday,” left Lewis with a fractured skull and ultimately helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In addition to suffering attacks and severe beatings, Lewis was arrested more than 40 times during the civil rights struggle.

In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council, and in 1986, he was elected to the House of Representatives. Known as the “conscience” of the U.S. Congress, he is now in his 13th term as a U.S. representative from Georgia.