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African American Politicians / African Americans / Blacks In Politics pt . 8 Internet Vol – 8 John Lewis

Born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy Alabama, John Lewis grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama.  As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts.  In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.

As a student at American Baptist College, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville,Tennessee.  Lewis risked his life on Freedom Rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons.  He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

While still a young man, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in  August 1963.

Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma,Alabama on March 7, 1965. The marchers were attacked byAlabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”   News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence.

In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then.

John Lewis lives in Atlanta,Georgia and is married to Lillian Miles.  They have one son, John Miles.