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John R. Lewis

Congressman John Lewis received the 2007 Dole Leadership Prize for his courageous leadership in the Civil Rights Movement and his commitment to creating positive change through the political system.

Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. By the time he was 23, Lewis was recognized as one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. During the turbulent era, Lewis led by example:

  • He participated in the Freedom Rides during the summer of 1961, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South;
  • From 1963 to 1966, Lewis served as Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a body largely responsible for organizing peaceful student activism in the Movement;
  • Lewis was instrumental in organizing and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.
  • He organized the Selma, Ala. March in 1965 with fellow activist Hosea Williams and others to demonstrate a need for equal voting rights. The peaceful 600 protestors were met by violent Alabama State Troopers on the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, resulting in a brutal confrontation known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Called “a genuine American hero and moral leader” by Roll Call Magazine, Lewis continued a life of service as Director of the Voter Education Project, which added nearly 4 million minorities to the voter rolls. Appointed by President Jimmy Carter, Lewis directed ACTION, the federal volunteer agency responsible for more than 250,000 volunteers.

Elected to Congress in November 1986, Lewis has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District ever since. He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and Chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

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    The Last Stand of South Vietnam

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