United States Postal Service will honor former Congressman and Civil Rights leader, John Lewis
See John Lewis talk about the importance of voting: https://youtu.be/gpojMGle0Nc
If anyone embodied this year’s NAACP theme of Resistance, it was John Robert Lewis, the beloved Congressman and Civil Rights leader. John Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, to sharecropper parents Willie Mae (neé Carter) and Eddie Lewis who lived near Troy, Alabama. The third of ten children he originally wanted to be a preacher and was an ordained as a Baptist minister in 1960. In 1967, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University, but the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s would alter his future calling. His fight for civil rights began with a letter to Martin Luther King Jr., who he would meet for the first time at age 18. In 1960, while at Fisk University, he became a founding leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)—a group he would lead from 1963 to 1966—and participated in numerous sit-ins that lead to desegregation of lunch counters and city businesses in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 1961, he became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, who were beaten by angry mobs and arrested. As a result of his Freedom Rider activities, Lewis was imprisoned for 40 days in the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary. In 1963, he was the youngest person to speak at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (where MLK Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech). And in 1965, Lewis was brutally beaten by police during the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to protest Black voter suppression.
Even in the face of hatred and violence, as well as some 45 arrests, Lewis remained resolute in his commitment to what he liked to call ‘good trouble’ and non-violence. Lewis said non-violence became both a tactic and a way of living. His philosophy he said was very simple: “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to stand up, you have to say something, you have to do something."
John Lewis was elected to Congress from Georgia in 1986 and would remain there until his death in 2020. Although suffering from pancreatic cancer, in 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic Lewis appeared at a reenactment of the bridge crossing in Selma. "I'm not going to give up," he said. "I'm not going to give in."
Surrounded by a crowd of marchers, Lewis urged younger generations to take up the mantle to "help redeem the soul of America."
"Keep the faith," he said. "Keep our eyes on the prize. We must go out and vote like we've never ever voted before."
The USPS stamp features a portrait of Lewis taken by Marco Grob for Time Magazine.