When considering how to honor the legacy of John R. Lewis, it was evident social justice would be one of our primary areas of focus. Congressman Lewis was steadfast and committed to the fight for equity and equality. We will honor him by carrying the torch of justice in our work.
Under the pillar of social justice will be the following initiatives:
Voter Education &
Equity in Education
Congressman Lewis believed all students should have access to a good, affordable and equitable education. He also believed a curriculum on government, public policy, leadership, and human rights should be accessible to our youth they can be prepared for "Good Trouble." Under our Equity in Education pillar will be the following initiatives:
In 2019, Congressman John R. Lewis was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In his memory, Health Awareness will be our third area of focus. African-Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the country. We are committed to doing our part to change that.
Under this pillar will be the following initiatives:
The John R. Lewis
The inaugural JRL Legacy Gala will be held in February 2023. This event will be held every year in celebration of John's birthday and his contribution to our country.
Annual JRL Memorial Ride
and Golf Tournament
The purpose of the John R. Lewis Legacy Institute Charity Ride is to celebrate his life while bringing together people from all walks of life. The Charity Ride and the Golf Tournament will bring awareness to attributes represented by the legacy of Congressman Lewis: Truth, Justice and Humility.
Each November we will recognize
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month by hosting educational events, free screenings and raising money for pancreatic cancer research and hopefully one day, a cure.
Youth Literacy Campaign
Our annual Trench Coats &
Backpacks youth literacy campaign will build awareness about the importance of literacy while also providing books to our youth that will educate them on social justice, equity, and the legacy of the movement.
The annual John R. Lewis Memorial Freedom Ride in Atlanta, Ga. hosts hundreds of riders each year to celebrate the life and legacy of our uncle, Congressman John Robert Lewis. The entire Atlanta region biking community joins us for this family friendly event.
We aim to strengthen communities through initiatives centered around Social Justice, Education Equity and Health Awareness. Congressman Lewis's commitment to nonviolent change, equality, and voting rights will remain at the forefront of our endeavors.
The Freedom Ride is our staple summer event to build awareness and raise funds for our mission. There is no fee to participate in this event - we are however asking for donations so we can continue to build the JRL Legacy Institute into the organization it is purposed to be!
The JRL Legacy Institute held a marker ceremony and dedication in honor of the late Congressman John R. Lewis at his home place in the Dunn’s Chapel Community on Saturday, August 27, 2022.
The Marker Ceremony and Dedication in Honor of Congressman John R. Lewis was attended by family members, friends, acquaintances and those who, perhaps, never met him.
Stories were shared about a young John Robert Lewis, who preached to chickens “and ate them,” about the family that supported him with love and prayers and about his lifelong journey to bring about social justice for all.
Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said, “I am so humbled (by all John Robert Lewis has done for human rights) that I don’t have words.”
The words that tell the story of Congressman Lewis are emblazoned on the historical marker that is dedicated in honor of his service to all mankind.
The “Birthplace of Congressman John Lewis” Alabama Historical Association marker traces Lewis’ life from his birth on February 21, 1940, to his death on July 17, 2020.The Birthplace of Congressman John Lewis Historical Marker reads:
Born February 21,1940, John Lewis was raised on this rural Pike County land by his parents, sharecropper Eddie and Willie May Lewis. In December 1957 while a student at American Baptist college in Nashville, Lewis applied for admission to the all-white Troy State College (now Troy University) but was denied because of segregation. Thereafter, he wrote to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who arranged to meet with him in Montgomery. King encouraged Lewis to become more active in the civil rights movement.
Returning to Nashville, Lewis graduated from American Baptist and entered Fisk University. As a college student, he organized a series of sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, during which he coined his motto on an activist’s obligation to pursue “good trouble, necessary trouble.” In 1961, Lewis participated in the Freedom Rides challenging segregation at southern bus terminals. Although he endured numerous physic assaults throughout the 1960s, Lewis maintained his belief in the philosophy of nonviolence.
In 1963, Lewis helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the student arm of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. As president of SNCC, Lewis assisted in the planning of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and was the youngest speaker at the historic event.
On March 7, 1965, Lewis and Hosea Williams led more than 500 activists as they set out from Selma for a march to Montgomery determined to raise awareness of persistent inequality at the ballot box. The marchers were met at the foot of Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge by sheriff’s deputies and Alabama State Troopers assemble at the order f of Gov. George C. Wallace.
The armed officers assaulted the peaceful crowd with nightsticks, bullwhips and tear gas. Dozens of participants were badly injured, including Lewis who suffered a skull fracture. Photographs and footage of the violent attack, which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” prompted federal protection for the marchers along their path to Alabama’s Capitol and led to congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Lewis continued his civil rights work after the Selma march. In 1981, he won a seat on the Atlanta City Council. In 1986, he was elected to represent Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, a position he held until his death on July 17, 2020. During his tenure in Washington, Congressman Lewis advocated for the causes of equality, nonviolence and justice and supported Africa American history initiatives. In recognition of his lifelong commitment to civil and human rights, fellow lawmakers remembered him as the “conscience of the Congress.