For many, John Lewis is synonymous with civil rights. And for good reason: He began fighting against racial inequality in the early 1960s … participating in sit-ins, freedom rides and protest marches.
By 1963, Lewis had settled in Atlanta and was known along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.
While chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis was a speaker during the famous March on Washington. He also played a key role in SNCC’s effort to register Southern blacks to vote.
In 1965 Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led more than 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama. They were attacked by state and local police. Lewis suffered a fractured skull in the attack.
But the pain would not be in vain. Televised images of the brutality galvanized Americans and soon after, the Voting Rights Act gave voting rights to all Americans.
Today, Lewis represents Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District. He’s done so for more than 20 years.