John Lewis (civil rights leader)

American politician and civil rights leader
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John Robert Lewis (born February 21, 1940) is an American politician and civil rights leader. He is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district, serving since 1987, and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. His district includes three-quarters of Atlanta. 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, including organizing the March 7, 1965 Selma march. He is a member of the Democratic Party leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and has served as a Chief Deputy Whip since 1991 and Senior Chief Deputy Whip since 2003.


  • Next time we march we may have to keep going when we get to Montgomery. We may have to on to Washington.
    • Told to New York Times on March 7, 1965 by Lewis, chairman of the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee and organizer of the Selma to Montgomery march after police stopped the demonstrators with violence.
    • As noted on On This Day, BBC. (url accessed on October 22, 2008)
  • I thought I was going to die a few times. On the Freedom Ride in the year 1961, when I was beaten at the Greyhound bus station in Montgomery, I thought I was going to die. On March 7th, 1965, when I was hit in the head with a night stick by a State Trooper at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I thought I was going to die. I thought I saw death, but nothing can make me question the philosophy of nonviolence.

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