On This Day

John Lewis

Civil Rights Leader and Congressman John Lewis

Full Name: John Robert Lewis
Profession: Civil Rights Leader and Congressman

Nationality:
United States of America
American

Why Famous: On his death, John Lewis was the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom which he also helped organize and where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I have a Dream" speech.

The son of sharecroppers, Lewis was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. to become one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, helping to organize sit-ins and marches throughout the south. He was at the forefront of a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 when he was beaten by state troopers, who fractured his skull. The news images of the event appalled America and led directly to President Lyndon B. Johnson's Voting Rights Act.

In 1986 Lewis was elected to the US Congress, representing Georgia and came to be called “the conscience of the Congress” by his colleagues. In 2011 President Barack Obama awarded Lewis the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Honor. Getting into “good trouble" was Lewis' life-long motto right up until his death in 2020.

Born: February 21, 1940
Birthplace: Troy, Alabama, USA

Generation: Silent Generation
Chinese Zodiac: Dragon
Star Sign: Pisces

Died: July 17, 2020 (aged 80)
Cause of Death: Pancreatic cancer

Events in the Life of John Lewis

  • 1963-08-28 Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a dream" speech addressing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom civil rights march at Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.
  • 1965-03-07 Alabama state troopers and 600 black protesters clash in Selma during "Bloody Sunday", protesters, including future congressman John Lewis beaten and hospitalized
  • 2020-07-26 Body of civil rights activist John Lewis crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma for the last time (beaten there 55 years ago) with a military honor guard as part of a remembrance ceremony
  • 2020-07-27 US congressman John Lewis becomes the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda in Washington D.C.

External Biographies