John Lewis was born to sharecroppers in Alabama, in 1940. He encountered the ugliness and brutality of racism while participating in sit-ins as a student at Fisk University in Nashville; as a Freedom Rider in 1961 challenging the segregation of Southern interstate bus terminals; registering black voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer; and facing Alabama State Troopers in 1965 on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on the day known as “Bloody Sunday.” Lewis also helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and served as SNCC chairman for three years.
Congressman John Lewis began serving Georgia’s 5th district in 1986 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. The civil rights icon was born on February 21, 1940, Today in Georgia History.
John Lewis' memoir, Walking with the Wind, won the Lillian Smith Book Award from the Southern Regional Council in 1998.