Having suffered more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis is often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement has ever produced.” He began participating in sit-ins at segregated lunch counters while a student at Fisk University, and in 1961, risked his life as a Freedom Rider to desegregate interstate transportation. By the age of 23, he was an architect of and keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington and a founder and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
With Hosea Williams, he led the “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, an event seminal to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After his activism in the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis served as director for the Voter Education Project and was appointed by President Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers in ACTION. He was elected to the Atlanta City Council, and in 1986, he was elected to Congress.
Currently, he is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Caucus, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight. He is also a best-selling author and has received numerous awards, including the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Obama and the only lifetime “Profile in Courage Award” ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.