Wednesday evening, the City of New Bedford will honor the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis. The Human Relations Commission plans to hold a public memorial celebration August 5 at 6 p.m. outdoors in front of City Hall, 133 William Street, with face coverings and social distancing required.

Lewis was born to sharecroppers in Alabama in 1940, befriended top civil rights leaders as a teen, was one of 13 original Freedom Riders, and a "Big Six" organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. In 1965 Lewis led a Selma to Montgomery march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge and was violently beaten by state troopers in an incident which became known as Bloody Sunday. He fought for voter enfranchisement and an end to segregation.

The young man was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or "SNCC," from 1963 to 1966. He graduated from the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, organized lunch counter sit-ins in that city, and and was ordained as a Baptist minister. He later moved to New York City, completed a bachelors degree in religion and philosophy at Fisk University, and served as a director of the Voter Education Project from 1970-1977.

After launching a failed bid for Congress, Lewis worked for the Carter administration. In 1981, Lewis won an at-large seat on the Atlanta City Council, launching his political career. He was elected to Congress in 1986 in an upset victory and served Georgia's 5th Congressional District from 1987 until his death at the age of 80.

The public is welcome to attend Wednesday's event.

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