Called to the Mall: John Lewis: He Changed the World

By Byron Johnson, 10 years old

John Lewis, the civil rights leader, was born February 21, 1940.

He is 77, and was born in Troy, Alabama. He has a large family, including six brothers, named Edward, Grant, Freddie, Sammy, Adolph, and William. He also has three sisters named Ethel, Rosa and Ora. He married Lillian Miles in 1968. Their son is named John-Miles Lewis.

He is the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. His district includes seventy-five percent of the city of Atlanta.

Over fifty years ago, he was one of the people who started the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Lewis led

sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in 1960 in Nashville, Tennessee. Bigots threw food on top of him and his friends. They never gave up even after that. He was one of the first freedom riders, and rode with black and white people to stop all the segregated busses in the South. He was violently attacked for doing that, and their bus was burned.

Besides helping to organize The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, he spoke at it, on August 28, 1963. He talked about how he was for civil rights and against racism.

Illustration of John Lewis by Byron Johnson
Illustration of John Lewis by Byron Johnson

Then came the voting rights march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

John Lewis attended the Selma March on March 7, 1965. All the marchers wanted was to be able to register to vote. The Alabama state troopers beat him so bad that they fractured his skull. The first day of the Selma March was called Bloody Sunday, because it was so violent and bloody. The second march for voting rights was on March 9, but that time the marchers turned back.

The third time, on March 21, the marchers were protected by Alabama state troopers and the FBI. The news media was watching. They marched all the way to Montgomery: peacefully.

In 1986 he got elected to Georgia’s 5th District and has been re- elected 14 times.

Representative Lewis led the 2016 House of Democrats sit-in demanding that the House take action on gun control.

He did it because of the shooting on June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. 4o Democrats joined him on the floor of the House of Representatives on June 22 for the sit-in.

He said, “There comes a time when you have to say something.

You have to make a little noise. This is the time.”

John Lewis changed the world and he’s still doing that work.

• Called to the Mall: An Anthology of Stories about the National Mall was a project to teach children how to be active citizens in a democracy. It was created September 25, 2017 by Shining Stars Montessori Academy Public Charter School and sponsored by the National Mall Coalition, of Washington, D.C.

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