(John Robert Lewis Feb 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020)
APAPA joins our country in mourning the passing of John Robert Lewis, a Civil Rights Giant who was a contemporary and a follower of Martin Luther King, Jr. John was born a son of humble Alabama sharecroppers who suffered a severe beating to within an inch of his death at the hands of police during a march in Selma, Alabama in 1965. He has survived this ordeal and many other trials and tribulations to become an icon of non-violent civil rights demonstrations to “heal the soul of America” and to create a more equitable and fairer country where all men are created and treated equally.
During the landmark march on Wednesday, August 28, 1963, in Washington DC, John Lewis was a mere 23 years old who chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Lewis was credited with being one of the “Big Six” who helped organize this landmark event in which Martin Luther King Jr., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his immemorial “I Have a Dream” speech to call for an end to racism.
Since then, John lived a life of principle and has ably served Georgia’s 5th Congressional District as the US representative for more than three decades. He was credited as being the “moral conscience of Congress” because of his life long embodiment of nonviolent fight for civil rights. By his own count, he has been arrested more than 40 times while demonstrating against racial and social injustice as a passionate and vocal speaker and a practitioner of non-violent civil rights protests.
Asian Americans should be forever grateful to John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders who have changed America’s face forever by their non-violent protests in the late ’50s and early ’60’s. Their actions have precipitated the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, which abolished an earlier quota system based on national origin and established a new immigration policy based on merits to attract skilled labor and on reuniting immigrant families to the United States.
We acknowledge that America is still a “work in progress” and APAPA pledges to follow the examples of these civil rights pioneers to make the “American Dream” come true for everyone!