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Freedom of Expression
A Legacy of Leadership in Non-Violent Activism and Community Organizing for Social Change
Non-violence Political Participation Freedom of Expression Equality Justice Change Social Movements Compromise
One of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced, Congressman John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he described as “The Beloved Community” in America.
The “conscience of the U.S. Congress” grew up as the son of sharecroppers, where he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a protest campaign against racial segregation on public transit that started in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, and by the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement; a mass protest movement against racial segregation and discrimination in the U.S. that peaked between 1955 and 1965.
As a student at American Baptist College, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations, was one of the Freedom Riders, who were civil rights activists that rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States, and was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form.
By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of twenty-three, he was an architect of, and a keynote speaker at, the historic March on Washington in August 1963. Attended by some 250,000 people, it was the largest demonstration ever seen in the nation’s capital. The event is remembered for Lewis’ keynote address and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 1964, he coordinated voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer, a campaign in June 1964 that attempted to register as many African-American voters as possible. The following year, Lewis helped lead over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, with intentions to march to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday” and hastened the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and his participation in the Southern Regional Council’s voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP). Under his leadership, the VEP transformed the nation’s political climate by adding nearly four million minorities to the voter rolls.
He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since then.
John Lewis holds a B.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University, and he is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been awarded over fifty honorary degrees and is the recipient of numerous awards from eminent national and international institutions, including the only John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement ever granted.
Nuclear Arms Control
Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt served three consecutive terms as the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009. The IAEA was created by the United Nations in 1957 to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Within the first few months of Dr. ElBaradei’s tenure with the IAEA, he and his staff began to search more intensely for undeclared nuclear activities around the world. In 2002, ElBaradei and former IAEA Director General Hans Blix personally traveled to Iraq, with a team of UN weapons inspectors, to prove that documents suggesting Iraq had tried to purchase uranium for nuclear weapons were inauthentic. Despite the proof that ElBaradei and Blix found in Iraq, the U.S. invasion began on March 19, 2003.
Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Dr. ElBaradei also mediated Iran’s controversial nuclear policy. Later elected as the leader of the National Association for Change in Egypt, ElBaradei became a major voice for democratic change and played a key role in the 2011 protests, which led to the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak.
ElBaradei has lectured on the subjects of international law, international organizations, arms control and the peaceful use of nuclear energy and has authored several books and articles on these topics. ElBaradei was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Peace in 2005, for his efforts in advocating for the safe use of nuclear energy.