By Christian Chlebowski, Boys State 2019
America lost one of its most powerful leaders on July 17, 2020. John Robert Lewis, an American Congressman and civil rights leader, was known by many for his devotion to the betterment of society and the pursuit of equality.
According to his House of Representatives website, his journey with the Civil Rights Movement began in his childhood, when he heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts. He decided to join the movement as an activist, organizing sit-ins while a student in college and participating in the Freedom Rides. Additionally, he helped form, and served as the chairman, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. A pinnacle of his involvement and participation in the Civil Rights Movement was the August 1963 March on Washington, D.C. Not only did Lewis help coordinate and organize the protest, but he was a keynote speaker at the event.
After the march, Lewis continued to organize sit-ins, protests, and voter registration drives. On March 7, 1965, he led hundreds of protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. In an event historically referred to as “Bloody Sunday,” the protesters were beaten and attacked by Alabama state troopers.
Even after this protest, Lewis continued to put himself in harm’s way to defend and earn rights for people of color.
Lewis began his career as an elected politician in 1981, when he served on the Atlanta City Council, and was soon after sent to Washington, D.C. and the halls of Congress as a member of the House of Representatives in 1986, where he served until his passing.
There is no doubt that John Lewis is regarded as one of America’s greatest heroes…his struggle for equality and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement is taught to students across America and beyond.
Yes, America lost one of its heroes on July 17, 2020, but his legacy will live on forever.
When John Lewis was in his teens, he was inspired by the leaders of his day. Now, sixty years later, John Lewis has served as that inspiration for thousands of teenagers, who will no doubt change the world, just as he did.
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