Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an exceptional holiday; it’s celebrated as a day of service. If you search Google, you’ll find a tremendous number of activities that are scheduled across the country to honor Dr. King’s memory. We thought we’d celebrate the holiday by calling attention to a public servant who marched with Dr. King and who carries on his legacy to this day: Congressman John Lewis.
Often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress.
He has been called “the conscience of the U.S. Congress,” and Roll Call magazine has said, “John Lewis…is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.”
John Lewis has been a member of Congress since 1987, and is an elder statesman of the Democratic party and a figure of huge respect for his role in the civil rights struggle of the 1960s. He was a Freedom Rider, spoke at the 1963 March on Washington, and took part in the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, led by Dr. King in 1965. In the bloody conflict that followed when police broke up the peaceful marchers, Mr. Lewis suffered serious injuries.
Congressman Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards from eminent national and international institutions, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom; the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre; the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence; the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize; the President’s Medal of Georgetown University; the NAACP Spingarn Medal; the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award; and the only John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage Award” for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.