Updated: July 27
BCDI-Atlanta Remembers the Legacy of Civil Rights Icon Congressman John Lewis
"Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, week, 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."
- John Lewis (1940-2020)
BCDI-Atlanta mourns the passing of Congressman John Lewis, but also honors the legacy he leaves behind.
Born in Troy, Alabama during the Jim Crow era, Congressman John Lewis, who was inspired by Dr. Martin LutherKing, Jr., eventually became a leader in the civil rights movement and the United States House of Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district.
At 21 years old, while a student at Fisk University, Congressman John Lewis became one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who confronted the Jim Crow segregation in the South. Arrested and beaten for his efforts, his fight for justice only grew stronger. At the age of 23, serving as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis ventured to Selma, Alabama to help Black people register to vote. As one of the "Big Six" of the civil rights movement, he also helped organize and spoke at the March on Washington. During this time, he was arrested, jailed, and beaten many times in the fight against injustice. At the age of 25, he lead marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge which became known as "Bloody Sunday" after marchers were harshly beaten, and one was murdered at the hands of a police officers while trying to protect his mom. At the age of 30, he takes over as executive director of the Voter Education Project, and helped register 4 million people to vote.
Congressman John Lewis won his first political office title as a member of the Atlanta City Council. He served on this council until 1986, when at the age of 46 he was elected to Congress for the first time as the United States House of Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district, a position in which he served bravely and honorably until his dying day.
Black Child Development-Institute had the honor of developing a close relationship and working with Congressman Lewis. He wrote the foreword to Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor: Statistics and Strengths-Based Solutions in the State of Georgia, released on May 15, 2018, in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Bisa Batten Lewis, President of BCDI-Atlanta, shared the following words in memory of Congressman Lewis: "One thing we at BCDI-Atlanta have always known for sure is Representative John Lewis was an ally for our organization and the work we do every day to support Black children and their families. That knowledge alone serves as ample motivation whenever fighting for what's right gets tough . . . No worries, Sir! We will continue your legacy. Rest well! " BCDI-Atlanta extends our thoughts and prayers to the family of Congressman Lewis.
And to Congressman Lewis, thank you, Sir, for your unwavering commitment to justice and support of our work on behalf of Black children. Rest in power.