John Lewis: Immigrants’ Rights New Civil Rights Fight

May 20, 2011  |  

(The Root) — During the week of May 22-26, hundreds of Americans are expected to converge in Jackson, Miss., to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Between May and December of 1961, the nonviolent protest against segregation in the Deep South — which continued despite the Supreme Court’s outlawing of such practices — saw 436 black and white young people riding interstate buses together through the South, testing segregation laws.  For flouting rules on who could ride in the front of a bus or use waiting rooms designated “Whites Only” and “Colored,” the Freedom Riders faced vicious mob attacks, slashed tires, firebombs and jail cells. Yet after persevering through more than 60 rides, they helped to hasten desegregation and ignite a nationwide movement for civil rights.  Among the Freedom Riders was a 21-year-old seminary student named John Lewis. He went on to chair the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, speak at the 1963 March on Washington, lead the voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery and represent Georgia’s 5th District in the U.S. Congress, where he continues to serve today.

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