John R. Lewis

civil rights leader and U.S. Representative (D.-Ga)
Born: Feb. 21, 1940
Birthplace: Troy, Ala.

Lewis, born into a family of Alabama sharecroppers, became active in the civil rights movement while attending Fisk University, where he received a B.A. in religion and philosophy in 1963. He organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and took part in the 1961 “freedom rides” through the Deep South. A member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis became its chairman in 1963. He was an organizer of the March on Washington in 1963 as well as one of its keynote speakers. In 1965, on “Bloody Sunday,” he led marchers across the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., where state troopers violently attacked them. In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council, and in 1986, he was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he continues to serve today.

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