Civil Rights icon and Congressman Rep. John Lewis will be honored at the Alliance for a Better Georgia’s Third Annual Comedy Roast and presented the Progressive Courage Award on August 31. As we prepare for the big event, we’re looking back on the incredible impact Lewis has left on American history and Georgia politics.
As the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis helped plan the March on Washington in August 1963.
The Big Six leaders, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., organized the march to advocate the passage of the Civil Rights Act, which was then stalled in Congress, and to protest the wider discrimination and disenfranchisement African Americans faced across the country beyond what any bill addressed.
The march was a success. More than 200,000 people of different races and backgrounds gathered together for a day of speeches, songs and prayers. Politicians, civil rights activists, clergyman and entertainers united to send a message: they wanted justice.
It was here that MLK gave his well-known “I Have A Dream” speech, and Lewis, the youngest speaker at the event at just 23-years-old, spoke alongside him. He planned a fiery speech that bitingly criticized the Kennedy government and the shortcomings of the bill such as its failure to strike down voting barriers, but other march leaders urged him to tone down certain aspects.
He respectfully complied, but Lewis still delivered an electrifying speech praising love and brotherhood and demanding the protection and freedom of African-Americans across the country, with resounding words like: “We want our freedom and we want it now.”
The pressure was on — after the bill trudged through Congress, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964.
The Civil Rights Act was considered the capstone to the Civil Rights movement. It ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
Lewis was on the front-lines fighting for some of the most significant gains for civil rights, and he continues to fight for progress today. You can join The Alliance for a Better Georgia as they honor the historic legacy of this Civil Rights hero.
At The Alliance’s Third Annual Comedy Roast, Rep. Lewis’ friends and colleagues will roast the Congressman for the first time ever, while The Alliance presents Lewis with the prestigious Progressive Courage Award.
Please join the fun on August 31 at 6 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center to honor one of the most important Civil Rights heroes in American history.