Civil Rights Leader John Lewis Dies At 80

John Robert Lewis, a civil rights leader and the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district since1987 has died.

Lewis, who as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington, played many key roles in the Civil Rights Movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States. He was a member of the Democratic Party leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and had served from 1991 until death as a Chief Deputy Whip and Senior Chief Deputy Whip from 2003 to his death.

Lewis was the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. The district he served includes the northern three-fourths of Atlanta. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

Lewis received many honorary degrees and awards from eminent national and international institutions, including the highest civilian honor of the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Lewis died on July 17, 2020 at the age 80 from cancer.

John Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama, the third of ten children of Willie Mae (née Carter) and Eddie Lewis. His parents were sharecroppers in rural Pike County, Alabama.

As a young child, Lewis had little interaction with white people; by the time he was six, Lewis had seen only two white people in his life.  As he grew older, though, he began taking trips into town with his family, where he experienced racism and segregation, such as at the public library in Troy. However, Lewis had relatives who lived in northern cities, and he learned from them that the North had integrated schools, buses, and businesses. When Lewis was 11, one of his uncles took him on a trip to Buffalo, New York, and, afterward, he was even more acutely aware of Troy’s segregation.

In 1955, Lewis first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio, and, when the Montgomery Bus Boycott (led by King) began later that year, Lewis closely followed the news about it. Lewis would later meet Rosa Parks when he was 17 and met King for the first time when he was 18.

More about John Lewis can be found here.

About Staff Writer

First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at desk@firststateupdate.com.

View all posts by Staff Writer →