John Lewis was an amazing politician, civil rights crusader, and proud family man, who fervently worked to uphold the United States’ to the core principles of democracy presented in the constitution: liberty, justice, and equality for all.
During his nearly 60 year career in public service, he inspired numerous generations of young activists to participate in civil rights and social justice causes by utilizing non-violent protests as a strategic tool to advocate for the rights of all oppressed and marginalized communities.
As a politician, Lewis proudly represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district as a Democratic member of the House of Representatives for over 30 years. Lewis was an integral figure on the Ways and Means Committee, and was a personal friend and mentor to President Barack Obama, who presented Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Lewis’ legacy is defined by his tireless voting rights advocacy work to ensure that all citizens of the United States could vote regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status.
In his early 20s, Lewis became involved with the Civil Rights Movement as a college student in Nashville, TN.
In May 1961, Lewis was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who rode interstate buses into Southern states who refused to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling that outlawed segregated public transportation. In 1963, Lewis was named chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and represented the organization at the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his inspiring “I have a dream” speech.
On Sunday, March 7, 1965, Lewis and fellow voting rights activists led a large group of peaceful protestors on a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama as part of an ongoing SNCC voting rights campaign to bring awareness to the widespread voter disenfranchisement in Alabama. The large group of peaceful protestors were brutally attacked by state troopers as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. As the national news media covered the vicious attacks on peaceful protestors, news of “Bloody Sunday” spread across America and spurred nation-wide support for voting reform, which prompted congress to pass the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited racial discrimination in local voting municipalities. In 2013, the Supreme Court found section five of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. Section five mandated that states and localities with a known history voter discrimination against minorities were not allowed to change voter laws and practices without the advance approval of the federal government.
In the final years of his life, Lewis was back on the front-lines in the fight for voting rights equality and used his platform as a United States Representative to advocate that all Americans are able to participate equally in the democratic process.
The Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany believes John Lewis deserves a memorial monument that unifies the nation during this unprecedented time of division, and reminds us that we are greater than what divides us–as he did countless times during his life.
And since Lewis’ death, we have thought creatively about the elements and themes that would best symbolize his life-long commitment to civil rights and voting rights advocacy work.
We recommend making the central theme of Lewis’ memorial monument the values of a true democratic nation–liberty, equality, and justice–as these are the values Lewis believed in and worked hard to protect for disenfranchised communities.
We also recommend incorporating contemporary design concepts such as realism and visualization to effectively capture Lewis’ likeness, a reflecting pool, and granite wall of imagery. The granite wall of imagery would display key events from Lewis’s nearly 60 year career in public service, from a young freedom fighter in the Jim Crow South, to an established member of Congress and the Democratic Party.
Once completed, the Lewis memorial monument would be a place of peace, serenity, and self-reflection that encourages visitors to reflect upon how they can address racial, social, political and economic injustices within their local communities.
To learn more about our vision for the John Lewis memorial monument, please contact The Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany at email@example.com.