Being put in prison using a restroom. Most people could not even begin to fathom being arrested, convicted and placed in a hardened penitentiary for using a banned restroom. And because of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), no one will ever have to ever again.
One of the most revered civil rights heroes of all time was released from Parchman Penitentiary on this day, 53 years ago, after being arrested in Jackson, Miss. for using a white restroom, which, of course, was against the law in the Deep South. The longtime Georgia congressman marked the occasion by posting a photo on his Facebook page (below). It showed Lewis being arrested in suit and tie.
Lewis, who defied the admonishments of his parents of not “getting into trouble” when he joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the fight for a just balance in society, eventually became chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
The lovable Lewis with the unmistakable country twang played a key role in the struggle to abolish Jim Crowism, also called legal segregation, and prompted Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to usher the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Bill through Congress.
Lewis, 74, has represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1987, when the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials (GABEO) successfully campaigned for redistricting in the state. Lewis’ district encompasses almost all of the city of Atlanta and part of neighboring DeKalb County, Ga.