Rep. John Lewis’ childhood aspiration was to be a preacher, and he practiced sermons in front of the chickens on his family farm in rural Alabama. Little did he know that he would soon lead the “freedom rides” fighting segregation in the south, give a keynote address at the March on Washington at age 23, and become a 17-term congressman. Rep. Lewis shares inspiring stories from that journey in this 2013 address delivered on Constitution Day here at the National Constitution Center, which we’re sharing in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rep. Lewis discussed his graphic novel March: Book One which spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and the battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins. He was joined by his co-author Andrew Aydin and NCC President Jeffrey Rosen.
The Honorable John Lewis is the U.S. Representative for GA-5, serving in his 17th term in the House, having served since 1987, and is the senior member of the Georgia congressional delegation. is an American politician and civil rights leader. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., he joined the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Lewis was a Freedom Rider, spoke at 1963's March on Washington and led the demonstration that became known as "Bloody Sunday." He was elected to Congress in 1986 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 and the National Constitution Center's Liberty Medal in 2016.
Jeffrey Rosen is the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization devoted to educating the public about the U.S. Constitution. Rosen is also professor of law at The George Washington University Law School and a contributing editor of The Atlantic.
- March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
- John Lewis’ speech at the March on Washington
- The 2016 Liberty Medal Ceremony honoring Rep. Lewis
This episode was engineered by Greg Scheckler and produced by Jackie McDermott and Tanaya Tauber.
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