Pioneer of Civil Rights Set to Speak at Siena

Azra Haqqie (Times Union) Features

Loudonville, N.Y. –Georgia Congressman John Lewis, recognized by most as one of the important leaders of the civil rights movement, will be at Siena College on January 19 to deliver the 19th annual lecture of the Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture Series on Race and Nonviolent Social Change.

Lewis will lecture on the topic “Civil Rights in the 21st Century” at 7 p.m. in the Alumni Recreation Center.

He has represented the 5th Congressional District in Georgia since 1986.

While still a young man, Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. As a student at Fisk University in Nashville, he organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the city. In 1961, he volunteered as one of the original Freedom Riders, challenging segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South.

By 1963, Lewis was dubbed one of the Big Six of the civil rights movement.

Lewis has received numerous awards, including the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for lifetime achievement, the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award, the Golden Plate Award (American Academy of Achievement, Dr. Linus Pauling), the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the NAACP Spingarn Medal and numerous honors from colleges and universities. The Timberland Company developed the John Lewis Award for humanitarian service and established a John Lewis Scholarship.