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.
John Lewis returned to his roots of non-violent protest when he took to the floor of the chamber of the House last June. Lewis prompted 170 other Democratic House Representatives to join him as he settled down for a tried and true sit-in.
The House had just turned down gun control measures in the wake of the the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 dead. With the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history on their minds, Lewis and other House Democrats responded by sitting on the House floor.
The sit-in began with some resounding words from Lewis.
“We were elected to lead, Mr. Speaker. We must be headlights, and not taillights,” he said. “We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the reality of mass gun violence in our nation.”
The sit-in lasted about 26 hours, with over 170 lawmakers joining the cause. Speakers would read the names of the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting, talk about their own district’s struggle with gun violence and offer the routes they feel the House should take. A unifying chant also arose from the group, spread across the House floor: “no bill, no break.”
Sitting on the House floor as well as taking pictures of the chamber are technically against the House rules — and the sit-in lit up social media with tweets, pictures and live videos. The GOP were furious and warned the participants about retribution, but Lewis was undeterred.
“My feeling is, I’ve been punished before. If they want to punish us, bring it on,” Lewis said. “If we violated the rules, the tradition of the House, the order of the House, punish us. We’re ready to be punished and then we’ll see what happens.”
Lewis organized sit-ins and other kinds of nonviolent protest throughout his time as a Civil Rights hero. He received punishment in the form of harassment, brutal beatings and arrests, all in the name of one of the most important causes in U.S. history.
After the House GOP expressed their anger, he also tweeted: “We got in trouble. We got in the way. Good trouble. Necessary Trouble. By sitting-in, we were really standing up.”
Lewis isn’t scared of what the GOP dares to dish out.
At the Alliance for a Better Georgia’s Third Annual Comedy Roast, Rep. Lewis and his legacy will be honored with a night of Good Trouble as his friends and colleagues laugh with him and the Alliance presents him with the prestigious Progressive Courage Award.
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.