U.S. Congressman John Lewis to Visit Baylor Law School Feb. 21

Feb. 16, 2007

Media Contact: Julie Carlson, senior staff writer, (254) 710-6681

In celebration of Black History Month, U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis will speak at Baylor Law School at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in room 127. Additionally, a special showing of the civil rights documentary "Bridge to Freedom," part of the PBS "Eyes on the Prize" series, will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, in room 122. Lewis's lecture and the showing of "Bridge to Freedom" are free and open to the public.

"These events give us an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come regarding civil rights and to hear from a man who was an important figure in the civil rights movement," said law professor Patricia Wilson. "We are fortunate to have someone of Congressman Lewis's stature visit Baylor Law School."

Lewis has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since 1986. The son of Alabama sharecroppers, he was born Feb. 21, 1940, just outside of Troy, Ala., and attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tenn., and later earned a bachelor's degree in religion and philosophy from Fisk University.

As a student at Fisk University, he organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, and in 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. While still a young man, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963. In 1964, he coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer.

The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement when he and Hosea Williams led more than 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as "Bloody Sunday."

Lewis published his biography, "Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement," in 1998. He has been awarded numerous honorary degrees and other honors from colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Princeton University, Duke University, Brandeis University, Columbia University, the University of Texas, Georgetown University and Harvard University. Additionally, he has received numerous awards including the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence, the Preservation Hero Award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Martin Luther King Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for lifetime achievement and the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award.

For more information about Lewis visit, call Wilson at 710-6591.

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