Sunday, July 19, 2020

R.I.P. Rep. John Lewis

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Civil Rights Movement icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) died Friday night at 80 after a bout with pancreatic cancer. Lewis, who was intricately involved in the Civil Rights Movement alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the era, was a key figure in the House Democrat conference. Lewis was one of the youngest leaders of the Civil Rights movement, as the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). During his time as the head of SNCC, Lewis along with the other five so-called “Big Six” Civil Rights Movements leaders–King, the National Urban League’s Whitney Young Jr., labor leader A. Philip Randolph, CORE’s James Farmer Jr., and the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins–organized the March on Washington at which King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Lewis was one of the more aggressive in pursuit of the cause. In 2009, the New Yorker’s David Remnick reported that other Civil Rights movement leaders toned down Lewis’s speech at the March on Washington because they feared it would aggravate then-President John F. Kennedy’s administration. In its obituary on Lewis Friday night, Politico noted that Lewis later said he was upset at first with the edits to his speech but later was satisfied with the result. “I was angry, but when we were done, I was satisfied,” Lewis later wrote in his book Walking With the Wind. Lewis was instrumental in many other facets of the Civil Rights Movement in addition to the March on Washington.

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