America honored one of its greatest Civil Rights leaders last month after U.S. Rep. John Lewis lost his six-month battle with cancer on July 17. He was 80.
Lewis dedicated his life to peacefully pursuing equal rights for Americans and fighting discrimination. As a young man growing up in the SEGREGATED South, he became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s, standing beside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and writing and delivering some famous speeches during historic protests.
As he marched with thousands and thousands of protesters, Lewis suffered beatings by the police and was arrested several times. Courageously, he continued to lead peaceful protests to fight things like segregation and unfair voting laws that prevented many Black people from voting. Segregation in the United States was racially based and affected things like where African Americans could live, the medical care they could receive, how they could use public transportation, and the education they received.
“You must find a way to get in the way,” Lewis said in a famous 2014 college graduation speech. “You must find a way to get in trouble—good trouble, necessary trouble.”
The American Civil Rights hero didn’t stop when segregation came to an end and the Voting Rights Act was signed into law. Lewis helped millions of people register to vote. In 1986 he became a Congressman representing Georgia in his fight for equality.
Since his passing, Lewis has been honored in many ways. On July 26, his flag-draped coffin was carried by horse-drawn wagon over the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the site where he had nearly lost his life at the hands of state troopers. In Washington, D.C., his body lay in state under the Capitol dome for two days before being taken to Atlanta for his funeral services, where three former presidents spoke.