Page 6 - Amazing Black Lives
P. 6

In 1957, Lewis attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in
                   Nashville, Tennessee where he learned about, and became intrigued by,
                   non-violent protesting.    He began organizing peaceful sit-ins at segregated
                   lunch counters.    Doing so, along with a number of other protesters, he was
                   arrested, but Lewis remained undeterred in his drive for civil rights.     In 1961,
                   he became a “Freedom Rider,” one of numerous groups of white and
                   African-American     activists   who
                   took repeated bus trips throughout
                   the South in 1961, protesting
                   segregated bus terminals at that

                   Inspired principally by Dr. Martin
                   Luther King, Jr., with whom he
                   eventually    developed     a   deep
                   friendship, Lewis was one of the
                   “Big   Six”   leaders    during   the
                   upheaval of the 1960’s civil rights
                   movement,      promoting    peaceful
                   sit-ins and other non-violent methods of protesting.              He represented
                   the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, while Rev. Dr. King spoke for
                   the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.        The four other key figures of
                   the movement were James Farmer, Jr. (of the Congress Of Racial Equality),
                   Asa Philip Randolph (Labor organizer), Whitney Young, Jr. of the National
                   Urban League and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP.            Together, these six leaders
                   were key in paving the path toward justice and individual civil rights for all in
                   America.    They played major roles in organizing and speaking at the famous
                   March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.               With an
                   estimated 250,000 participants, the largest gathering for civil rights of its time
                                                              at that point, many remember this
                                                              March as the one at which Dr. King
                                                              delivered his memorably exhilarating
                                                              and hopeful “I have a dream” speech:
                                                              “I have a dream that one day this
                                                              nation will rise up and live out the true
                                                              meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these
                                                              truths to be self-evident, that all men
                                                              are created equal.’“ The purpose of
                                                              the March was to encourage then
                                                              President John F. Kennedy to pass a
                                                              bill that would put an abrupt stop to
                                                              segregation practices in public places,
                                                              and to prevent race from being a
                                                              determining factor as to whether a
                                                              person could be hired for a job.    The
                                                              100 th   anniversary     of   President
                                                              Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation
                                                              seemed like a good date for the
                                                              March.     So it was held August 28,
                                                              1963.   The impact was immense.
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