John Robert Lewis (born February 21, 1940) is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end segregation. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is one of the most liberal legislators.
Born in Troy, Alabama, the third son of Eddie and Willie Mae Lewis. His parents were sharecroppers. Lewis was educated at the Pike County Training High School, Brundidge, Alabama and also American Baptist Theological Seminary and at Fisk University, both in Nashville, Tennessee, where he became active in the local sit-in movement. As a student he made a systematic study of the techniques and philosophy of nonviolence, and with his fellow students prepared thoroughly for their first actions. He participated in the Freedom Rides to desegregate the South, and was a national leader in the struggle for civil rights. In an interview John Lewis said “I saw racial discrimination as a young child. I saw those signs that said “White Men, Colored Men, White Women, Colored Women.”…”I remember as a young child with some of my brothers and sisters and first cousins going down to the public library trying to get library cards, trying to check some books out, and we were told by the librarian that the library was for whites only and not for “coloreds.” John Lewis followed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks on the radio. He and his family supported the Montgomery bus boycott.