Congressman John Robert Lewis

(1940-2020)

Good Trouble

      John Robert Lewis was known as the “conscience of the U.S. Congress.”  John was the son of sharecroppers, born in Troy, Alabama, in 1940.  As a young boy, he knew that he was going to get in "good trouble.”  It was a large part of his character.  He knew that he had to make a difference for equal rights. He received a BA degree from American Baptist Theological Seminary and a BA from Fisk University.  He held over 50 honorary degrees. He was one of the youngest speakers at the March on Washington over 50 years ago and was also one of the lieutenants of Dr. Martin L. King,  Jr.  John Lewis led the voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  We refer to this march as “Bloody Sunday.”   At that march, he along with other marchers was beaten terribly.

        

       He said, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic.  Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime.  Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

        He was known as one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. John Lewis was jailed over 40 times throughout his career.  Marching and sitting- in were the non-violent methods that were used during the movement to challenge the Jim Crow laws.  That’s good trouble.  He was a genuine hero. He served as a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  He moved from protest to politics, by becoming a member of the Atlanta City Council.  He continued to fight for people’s rights by running and serving on the federal level as a U.S. Congressman for 17 terms, representing Georgia’s 5th district. 

 

       John Lewis died on July 17, 2020, at the age of 80.  One of his last appearances before his death was to stand with Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C. when the mural was being painted on Pennsylvania Avenue for “Black Lives Matter.”  "Many say that his life was a sermon. My husband and I had the opportunity to meet John Lewis at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington first-day-of-issue stamp ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, DC.  He and actress Gabrielle Union were on the dais together to present the stamp to the public. We made our pilgrimage to DC to represent my father who had been at the original March on Washington. It was a most rewarding experience.  We were humbled to meet him.  He was an American hero. Thank you and rest in Power, John Lewis!"  By Sandra Cook-McKnight

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Stamps related to his journey
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John Lewis with Union at stamp ceremony.
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John Lewis signing March on
Washington ceremony program
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Representative John Lewis receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2011.
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Signed March on
Washington ceremony program
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Washington mayor Muriel Bowser with Rep. John Lewis together at the mural, which has been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, wearing face masks and with their arms crossed in solidarity with the movement.
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