John Lewis, Civil Rights icon and longtime member of the House of Representatives, passed away last Friday at the age of 80 years old. His participation in the Civil Rights Movement began with the Nashville Student Movement before expanding at age 21 to the Freedom Rides; Lewis was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders who sought to integrate public transportation in 1961. He was also one of the main organizers of and the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. Lewis served as the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963-1965, and lead the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 that culminated in Bloody Sunday. He worked throughout the 1970s to expand voter registration before becoming an Atlanta city councilman and eventually the Representative for Georgia’s fifth district, a seat he held until his death.
John Lewis was arrested over 40 times for protesting segregation, acts he called making “good trouble.” You can learn more about his life and legacy through his memoir Walking with the Wind and recent PBS documentary, John Lewis – Get in the Way, currently available to stream for free.