Civil Rights Leader Delivers Speech

Congressman John R. Lewis to Discuss His Life’s Journey

What: U.S. Rep. John R. Lewis of Georgia, who has championed the cause of civil rights for more than half a century, will speak Feb. 26 at the Fullerton Arboretum at Cal State Fullerton. His talk is free and open to the public as part of the university's observance of Black History Month.

When: Sunday, Feb. 26, noon

Where: Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Road, Fullerton 92831

Who: Born the son of Alabama sharecroppers, Rep. John R. Lewis (D-Ga.) attended segregated public schools and was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery bus boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. He became a part of the civil rights movement, organizing sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville; volunteering for the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South; and enduring severe beatings and incarceration for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation laws.

During the height of the movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which he helped form. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement, joining Whitney Young, A. Phillip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer and Roy Wilkins. By the time he was 23, Lewis was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963. Despite more than 40 arrests, brutal physical attacks and serious injuries, Lewis has remained an advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence and continues to fight for human rights in the United States. He holds a B.A. in religion and philosophy from Fisk University and is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1977, Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency. In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council, then to Congress in 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for more than 25 years. He is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support and chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight. For more information about Lewis, visit

Additional: Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) will introduce Lewis. His talk is one in a series sponsored by the university’s Center for Oral and Public History as part of “New Birth of Freedom: Civil War to Civil Rights in California,” a free, public exhibit at the Fullerton Arboretum’s Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum. More information is available at 657-278-3407.

This project was made possible with support from the California Council for Humanities, an independent nonprofit organization and a partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

RSVP: To reserve a seat or for more information about the event, send email to

Media Contact: Mimi Ko Cruz, 657-278-7586,

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