Civil Rights legend John Lewis to deliver Harvard commencement address

John Lewis
Congressman/Civil Rights Icon John Lewis (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Harvard University announced on Wednesday that its commencement speaker will be none other than venerable Civil Rights icon John Lewis.

“For more than 50 years, John Lewis has dedicated himself to the ideals of equality and decency, standing up for what is right, even when it meant putting himself in harm’s way,” Harvard President Drew Faust said, according to Politco.

The statement continued, “His public service legacy is unparalleled, and he is an inspiration to me and to countless other people across the United States and around the world.”

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John Lewis was brutally beaten during a voting rights protest in Selma, Alabama, and has continued to fight for civil rights all his life.

The commencement ceremony will take place in May.

A beacon of activism

John Lewis, a Democratic House Representative from Georgia, is a graduate of Fisk University and the American Baptist Theological Seminary but holds an honorary degree from Harvard as well as from Columbia, Duke, Howard and Princeton, among other schools.

Lewis also participated in a 2016 ceremony in which Harvard honored the slaves who worked for Harvard presidents. Then, in 2017, the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School honored Lewis with the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award.

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The award was well-deserved, as John Lewis has continued his long history of Civil Rights activism and has continued to serve his country and community with honor and dignity.

Taking on Trump

John Lewis has also been a vocal leader in speaking out against Donald Trump. The congressman made headlines last year for refusing to visit the Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi when it opened because the controversial president was scheduled to be there.

Lewis said in a statement that Trump’s “attendance and hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed” by the museum itself.

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“After careful consideration and conversations with church leaders, elected officials, civil rights activists, and many citizens of our congressional districts, we have decided not to attend or participate in the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” Lewis wrote.

In particular, Lewis pointed to the president’s “disparaging comments about women, the disabled, immigrants, and National Football League players.”

“The struggles represented in this museum exemplify the truth of what really happened in Mississippi,” John Lewis said. “After President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit this historic civil rights museum.”