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U.S. Rep. John Lewis to Speak at Stetson Law Graduation


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U.S. Rep. John Lewis

U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Click for high-resolution image.

Civil Rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia will speak to graduates of Stetson University College of Law on May 16 at 9 a.m. at 1401 61st St. S. in Gulfport. Rep. Lewis is a lifelong advocate of civil liberties who played a leading role in passing the Voting Rights Act and in ending segregation in America.

Lewis is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, and the unprecedented Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Born to sharecroppers in Alabama, Lewis attended segregated schools and was inspired by the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to join the Civil Rights Movement. As a student at Fisk University, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tenn. In 1961, he joined the Freedom Rides, challenging Jim Crow segregation in the South. At the age of 23 he was speaking to the same enormous crowd that heard King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the historic March on Washington.

On March 7, 1965, Lewis and Hosea Williams led more than  600 people on The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights. Lewis and others were brutally beaten by state troopers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The event became known as “Bloody Sunday” and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Lewis to direct the federal volunteer agency known as ACTION. In 1981, as a member of Atlanta City Council, Lewis advocated for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation. Lewis has served as a U.S. Representative of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District since being elected to Congress in 1986.

For more information, please see his online  biography.