John Robert Lewis

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Lewis, John Robert,

1940–2020, African-American politician and civil-rights leader, b. near Troy, Ala., grad. American Baptist Theological Seminary (B.A. 1961), Fisk Univ. (B.A. 1967). The son of sharecroppers, he was an early advocate of nonviolence in the pursuit of civil rights for African Americans. A member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and its president (1963–66), he organized lunch-counter sit-ins, was one of the Freedom RidersFreedom Riders,
American civil-rights demonstrators who engaged (1961) in nonviolent protests against segregation of public interstate buses and terminals in the South. From the 1940s several federal court decisions and an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) order had ruled
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, and helped organize the historic March on Washington (1963). Arrested more than 40 times, he was beaten by white mobs and police, most violently during the Selma to Montgomery march on "Bloody Sunday" (1965), when he was severely injured. After leaving SNCC, Lewis concentrated on voter education and headed (1977–80) ACTION, a federal volunteer agency. A liberal Democrat, he won election to the Atlanta city council in 1982; four years later he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until his death.


See his Walking with the Wind (with M. D'Orso, 1999); D. Halberstam, The Children (1998).

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References in periodicals archive ?
"And I heard the voice, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and it seemed like saying, 'John Robert Lewis, you too can do something.'"
Forty years later, as the only survivor of the front line of speakers, John Robert Lewis, an authentic Freedom Movement hero who was brutally beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., and who rose from Jim Crow Alabama to become senior chief deputy whip of the House Democratic Caucus, was hailed almost everywhere as the lengthened and lengthening shadow of the Dream.