|July 2, 1963, six leaders of the nation's civil rights organizations met at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.|
He was a son of sharecroppers' who fought for civil rights using nonviolent means, and went on to a long career in Congress.
|John Lewis in 1961|
"Boarding that Greyhound bus to travel through the heart of the Deep South I felt good. I felt happy. I felt liberated. I was like a soldier in a nonviolent army" - Representative John Lewis, Freedom Riders trailer, American Experience, 2011John Lewis helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was elected its chairman in 1963, making him one of the Big Six at the age of 23, and two years later he was leading a march over a bridge named after a Klansman in Selma, Alabama.
|Two Minute Warning, Police readying to attack marchers in Selma on 3/7/65. Spider Martin|
On Sunday March 7, 1965, about six hundred people began a fifty-four mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery. They were demonstrating for African American voting rights and to commemorate the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot three weeks earlier by an state trooper while trying to protect his mother at a civil rights demonstration. On the outskirts of Selma, after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers, in plain sight of photographers and journalists, were brutally assaulted by heavily armed state troopers and deputies.Thanks to press on hand the world saw in video and photographs the brutality visited upon nonviolent demonstrators that day who maintained their nonviolent discipline in spite of the brutal attacks on them by the local authorities in Selma.
It would lead through a protracted struggle into a march from Selma to Montgomery on March 25, 1965 led by Martin Luther King Jr. and would serve to usher in the 1965 Voting Rights Act for African Americans in the United States signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 5, 1965.
Back in 2014 Congressman Lewis spent three hours in an in-depth interview on C-SPAN talking about his life, and is available below.
Fifty years after Selma, Congressman John Lewis would meet with Cuban dissidents currently engaged in civil disobedience in Cuba inspired by his struggle half a century ago. The positive fruits of nonviolence knows no bounds.
|Congressman John Lewis meets with Cuban dissidents in 2015|
|Civil rights icon and Member of Congress John Lewis (1940 - 2020)|
Requiescat in pace John Lewis