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John Lewis to speak at commencement

April 4, 2014

Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), the only living of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, will deliver The Madeira School’s commencement address on Friday, May 23, 2014.

A civil rights icon, John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights and securing civil liberties. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress where he has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since November 1986.

John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader at an early age. As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, TN. At the height of the movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. He was instrumental in the planning and was a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence.

“While Congressman John Lewis was the same age as our graduating seniors, he set down a path that changed America,” said Head of School Pilar Cabeza de Vaca. “His courage, dedication, and leadership provide a stellar example for Madeira girls as they prepare to embark on their own journeys. We are truly fortunate to have a long lasting relationship with Congressman John Lewis through our Co-Curriculum program, and that he has agreed at the request of the senior class to deliver their graduation speech.”

John Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards from imminent national and international institutions, including the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, the Lincoln Medal from the historic Ford’s Theatre, the Golden Plate Award given by the Academy of Excellence, the Preservation Hero award given by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Capital Award of the National Council of La Raza,  the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, the President’s Medal of Georgetown University, the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the National Education Association Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Award, and the only John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage Award" for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. 

John Lewis is the co-author of a #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning graphic novel entitled  MARCH. He is also the author of Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, winner of the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Best Literary Work-Biography.  His biography is entitled Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. He is also the subject of two other books:  Freedom Riders: John Lewis and Jim Zwerg on the Front Lines of the Civil Rights Movement, by Ann Bausum and John Lewis in the Lead, by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson, with illustrations by famous Georgia artist, Bennie Andrews.  

He currently serves as senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

His office has participated in Madeira’s Co-Curriculum program by hosting interns since 1998.

Visit www.johnlewis.house.gov for complete bio.

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