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Lewis, John

(Craig asked about the speakers after Bob sang Only A Pawn In Their Game at the March On Washington (Washington Rights March), Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, 28 August 1963.) (Timothy J Lundgren):

If I'm not confusing him with someone else, John Lewis was the leader of a major union -- my rather fuzzy memory suggests the United Mine Workers, but I could be way off. Floyd's a mystery to me. (Nina Frankel):

In response to the query about who McKissick and Lewis were: Both were active members of the Black civil rights movement in the 1960s. Floyd McKissick was out of Durham, North Carolina and I can't remember specifics about him. I do know that after the heyday of the movement he worked with the Nixon administration to found a black-only community outside of Durham to boost black entrepeneurship and self-determination. It still exists to some extent. He died a few years ago. (His son, Floyd McKissick, Jr. is a local lawyer and was in the state house. Not sure if he won reelection last year, but I believe he probably did.)

John Lewis was the chairperson of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) formed in Raleigh, North Carolina (1960?). I believe he later was on the Atlanta, Georgia city council and perhaps even in their state house.

Sorry I don't know more specifics about them, but they are both major names from the Movement and any good history of the civil rights movement of the 1960s should provide more detail. (David Searls):

John Lewis was also one of the original freedom riders. I recently saw him referred to as "the bravest" of the nonviolent civil rights demonstrators. He was beaten badly on the first freedom ride and maybe also at Selma. The Blackside Productions series "Eyes on the Prize" has a lot of background and some great footage of this era if you want more info. John Lewis is now U.S. Representative John Lewis from Georgia. "Michael Rothbaum (SAR)":

Both men favored black empowerment from a specifically political perspective, even though each was grounded solidly in the language of liberation theology.

From _Black Religion and Black Radicalism_, by Gayraud S. Wilmore:

"A series of devastating ghetto rebellions broke out across the country [from 1964 to 1968] ... In _Where Do We Go Grom Here: Chaos or Community?_, [Martin Luther] King describes the debate he had with [Stokely] Carmichael, who replaced the former theological student John Lewis as national head of SNCC, and Floyd McKissick, who took over ... as the national director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The center of gravity was shifting away from a religious orientation and the argument that took place on the march between Memphis and Jackson was symptomatic of the split opening up over the black power issue:

Sensing this ... I asked Stokely and Floyd to join me in a frank discussion of the problem. ... For five long hours I pleaded with the group to abandon the Black Power slogan [...] Floyd insisted that the slogan itself was important. "How can you arouse people to unite around a program without a slogan as a rally cry? Didn't the labor movement have slogans? haven't we had slogans all along in the freedom movement? What we need is a new slogan with 'black' in it."

From _The Almanac of American Politics_, by Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa:

"The congressman [from Georgia's 5th Congressional District] is John Lewis, who made history a quarter-century before he was elected as one of the heroes

-- _Time_ said he was a saint -- of the civil rights movement. A sharecropper's son from Troy, Alabama, he was the first in his family to finish high school; he wrote Ralph Abernathy for help in suing for the right to enter Troy State College.He met martin Luther King when he was 18 and in 1959, at age 19, he helped organize the first lunch-counter sit-in, which was received with hostility hard to imagine today. In 1960, the day after John Kennedy was elected, Lewis sat in at the Krystal Diner in Nashville and a waitress poured cleansing powder down his back and water over his food; after eating, he went to talk to the manager, who turned a fumigating machine on him. In May 1961, he was the first victim of the Freedom Rides, riding buses as they were attacked and burned; he was viciously beaten in Rock Hill, South carolina, and Montgomery, Alabama. He spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. In 1964, he helped coordinate the Mississippi Freedom Project. In 1965, he led the Selma-to-Montgomery march to petition for voting rights and was attacked by policemen. Modestly, quietly, maintaining his poise and good judgement under harsh circumstances, Lewis was onr of the people who risked their lives many times to make the civil rights revolution happen.

"Lewis responded to these beatings with a stubborn determination to persevere with actions not just words. Lewis's tenure as head of the Voter Education Project in Atlanta and his stint at ACTION in the Carter Administration did not give him the publicity and fame, however, that made a national celebrity of Jesse Jackson, whose civil rights movement credentials are much thinner. Lewis's first foray into electoral politics was unsuccessful: he ran in 1977 to replace Andrew Young in the House and was soundly beaten by Wyche Fowler. After winning a seat on the Atlanta Council in 1981, he ran for Congress in 1986, and trailed Julian Bond 47%-35% in the first primary. But even though Bond won over 60% of the balck vote, Lewis won the runoff because, thanks to hard work on local issues like zoning and city ethics, he drew nearly 90% of the white vote. He has been reelected easily since.

"'I'm a coalition builder,' Lewis says. 'I don't want to compromise my belief in interracial democracy.' Unlike some black members, he cultivates friendships and alliances with many members, including whites who have less and less faith in government action to solve problems ... while commemorating the civil rights past, Lewis thinks that in the future blacks should run as 'mainstream politicians.'"

On December 7, 1997, Rep John Lewis participated in the Kennedy Center Honors brunch when Bob Dylan was among that weekend's honorees.

At the brunch, Anita Hill, the law professor who was once the object of every camera in the country, said she was doing the looking for a change. Her host, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), said the events gave him an opportunity to see people in a different light. "To some degree it is sort of a reconnection. Sidney Poitier was so supportive during the civil rights movement and Bob Dylan came South in 1963 and 1964 before he was known around the world," said Lewis.

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