By Carissa Smith, Ohio Democratic Party, Cincinnati Herald
Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Lewis (GA) and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY) visited the greater Cincinnati area on Sunday, Oct. 15 to encourage voters that their voices can be heard on the ballot in the Nov. 6 Election.
Aftab Pureval, Ohio’s First Congressional District candidate, joined Lewis and Jeffries as they visited local churches and engaged with residents about the key issues affecting the African American community.
The tour finished at Beloved Community Church at 710 N. Fred Shuttlesworth Circle in Avondale with a rally of local leaders, pastors and concerned voters in the African American community to encourage turnout to the polls on election day.
As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tenn., according to Lewis’ congressional website. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chai of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the Movement, including sit-ins and other activities. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.
In 1965, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. on March 7, 1965, on a march to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News of that confrontation helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence.