John Lewis

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John Lewis


Honorable John Lewis is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 5th district of Georgia.

Early life

John Lewis was born the son of sharecroppers on Feb. 21, 1940, outside of Troy, Ala. He grew up on his family's farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama.

Education

John Lewis holds a B.A. in religion and philosophy from Fisk University, and he is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary, both in Nashville, Tenn.

Early activism

As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized[1]sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tenn. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South.

Lewis risked his life on those rides many times by simply sitting in seats reserved for white patrons. He was also beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

During the height of the movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the movement, including sit-ins and other activities. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

"Community organizer"

Writing in the Huffington Post of September 8, 2008, in an article entitled "From Organizer To Elected Official" Democratic Socialists of America member Peter Dreier listed several serving US politicians who had begun their careers as "community organizers". They were US Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Representatives John Lewis of Georgia, Jan Schakowsky and Danny Davis of Illinois, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Linda Sanchez of California, and Donna Edwards of Maryland, Washington House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, state legislators Beth Low of Missouri, Michael Foley of Ohio, Gilbert Cedillo of California, Tom Hucker of Maryland, Tony Hill of Florida, and Crystal Peoples of New York, Alameda County (California) Supervisor Nate Miley, City Council members Jay Westbrook of Cleveland, Chuck Turner and Sam Yoon of Boston, and Melvin Carter of St. Paul, and San Francisco School Board member Jane Kim. [2]

Socialist associations

Lewis' civil rights activism brought him into contact with some of the leading leftists of the era, including Bayard Rustin, Andrew Young, William Fitts Ryan and James Farmer.

March on Washington

At the March on Washington, King’s speech was the most eloquent, Lewis’s the most radical. Lewis was just twenty-three at the time, the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coördinating Committee. In the original draft of his speech, the demand for racial justice and “serious revolution” was so fearless that, in the last minutes before the program began, Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, and other movement organizers negotiated with him to remove any phrases that might offend the Kennedy Administration. Lewis planned to say, “We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own ‘scorched earth’ policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground––nonviolently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy.” He had to lose the bit about Sherman’s army, but the rest of the text, capped by its final warning—“We will not be patient!”––left no doubt about Lewis or about the audacious generation he represented.[3]

Selma

Two years later, in Selma, Lewis led a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge straight into a blockade set up by Alabama state troopers. The first nightstick came down on Lewis’s skull. The troopers used whips, horses, a hose wrapped in barbed wire. Along with Lewis, ninety demonstrators were injured. At the White House, Lyndon Johnson watched it all on television and deepened his resolve to push the Voting Rights Act.[4]

National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee

Circa 1962, Vice Chairmen of the Communist Party USA front, National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee were:[5]

As of May 1964, John Lewis, Chairman, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, was listed as a sponsor of the National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Socialist Debs award

Every year since the mid 1960s the Indiana based Eugene V. Debs Foundation holds Eugene Debs Award Banquet in Terre Haute, to honor an approved social or labor activist. The first honoree, (1965) was John L. Lewis.[6]

Tribute to Socialist leader

In 1967, John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee said: "The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee salute Norman Thomas on his 80th birthday.

Norman Thomas has symbolized to millions of Americans the ideals of peace; freedom and equality. We are honored to pay him tribute."[7]

Freedomways connection

Freedom-272x300.jpg

The Communist Party USA created Freedomways magazine as a propaganda vehicle with which to reach into the black intellectual and academic community. It was established in the mid-1960's by members of the CPUSA and well-documented sympathizers/supporters. It billed itself as "A Quarterly Review of the Freedom Movement."

Newly declassified documents from Operation SOLO, an FBI program to infiltrate the Communist Party USA, reveal that a journal called Freedomways, which was influential in the black community for decades, was subsidized by the Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties.

Freedomways has been called “one of the most influential African-American literary and political journals of the 1960s and 1970s.” It began in 1961 and ceased publication in 1986.

During the 25 years it served as a propaganda organ for the CPUSA and Soviet front organizations such as the World Peace Council, Freedomways published articles by such figures as:

Lewis, wrote a 1965 Freedomways article, “Paul Robeson: Inspirer of Youth,” about the famous actor and singer who had been a member of the CPUSA and admirer of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

“He [Robeson] talked and listened to the representatives of the Communist Party,” wrote Lewis, then national chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). “In many ways,” he wrote, “we of SNCC are Paul Robeson’s spiritual children.”[8]

GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee

Circa 1969, John Lewis, Southern Regional Council, Atlanta , was listed as a sponsor of the Socialist Workers Party led GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee .[9]

Political career

In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's 5th Congressional District since then. He is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

"Congressional Pink Caucus"

In October 1989 the Nicaraguan Sandinista Government announced that they would no longer comply with the 19 month-old cease-fire agreement with the Contras. This had been considered a prime step forward for the "peace process" that was progressing slowly as part of the Arias Peace Plan.

A resolution was introduced in Congress deploring the Sandinistas' action. The Senate voted unanimously in favor, but in the House the vote was 379-29. All the 29 Congressmen voting against the resolution were Democrats.

The Council for Inter-American Security dubbed these 29 people the "Congressional Pink Caucus":

Institute for Southern Studies

The Institute for Southern Studies was incorporated in the state of North Carolina on July 28, 1989. The founding members listed on the incorporation papers:

Martinez Jobs Bill

In 1994, the Communist Party USA backed Martinez Jobs Bill (HR-4708), was co-sponsored by Democratic Party California Reps Howard Berman, Xavier Becerra, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Robert Scott (Va), Tom Foglietta (Pa), Bennie Thompson (Miss), John Lewis (Ga) and Ed Pastor (Az). Maxine Waters of California was a principal co-sponsor. [10]

DSA endorsement

In July 1996, the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed John Lewis, Georgia 5 in that year's Congressional elections.[11]

Congressional Progressive Caucus

In 1998 John Lewis Democrat was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[12]

As of February 20 2009 John Lewis was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[13]

Congressional Black Caucus

John Lewis is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 113th Congress:[14]

Communist Party paper contribution

Johnlewis.jpg

John Lewis contributed an article to the Communist Party USA paper People's Weekly World, August 23,2003, page 8 "An Open letter to my Colleagues in Congress: Remembering the Legacy of Martin Luther King"

Health Care Access resolution

John Conyers promoted House Concurrent Resolution 99 (H. Con Res. 99) Directing Congress to enact legislation by October 2004 that provides access to comprehensive health care for all Americans. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES April 4, 2001.

Sponsors:John Conyers (for himself), Jan Schakowsky, John Tierney, Barbara Lee, Donna Christensen, David Bonior, Dennis Kucinich, Earl Hilliard, Maurice Hinchey, Jerry Nadler, Donald Payne Chaka Fattah, Peter DeFazio, John Lewis Tammy Baldwin, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Cynthia McKinney, Jim Langevin, George Miller Alcee Hastings, Patsy Mink, John Olver , Bennie Thompson, Pete Stark, Julia Carson, and Mike Capuano submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce;[15]

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), that the Congress shall enact legislation by October 2004 to guarantee that every person in the United States, regardless of income, age, or employment or health status, has access to health care..

Staffer's 2004 trip to Cuba

In June 2004, Michael Collins from the office of Congressman John Lewis spent four days in Havana, Cuba, for the purpose of "fact finding". The trip cost $1,280.16 and was paid for by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.[16]

Democratic Socialists of America

Debs-Douglas Dinner program, Atlanta DSA, 2007

In November 2007, Rep. John Lewis was a special guest at the national Conference of Democratic Socialists of America held at the IBEW union hall in Atlanta, Georgia.[17]

Congressman Lewis Introduced Bernie Sanders to the conference.

The program of the first Atlanta Douglass-Debs Dinner, held at the Democratic Socialists of America conference on Friday November 9 was;[18]

Standing with DSA

Metro Atlanta DSA newsletter, Fall 2012, p4

On August 24, 2012, Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America's coalition partner Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Stand for Peace, held in front of Colony Square every Friday at noon, calling for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reductions in military spending and instead funding for human and environmental needs.

DSA members Barbara Segal and Marcia Borowski serve on the steering committee of the Georgia Coalition for Peace and Justice, which supports the Stand for Peace, and both were present at the anniversary. Pictured, DSA member Minnie Ruffin stands with US Representative John Lewis.[19]

"Progressives' on "Ways & Means" committee

In 2008, the U.S. Congress' most powerful committee, "Ways & Means" was heavily influenced by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus including Chairman Charles Rangel, Pete Stark, John Lewis, Xavier Becerra and Jim McDermott.

Congressional Progressive CaucusVice Chairman Raul Grijalva and Danny Davis, joined "Ways & Means" late in the year.

Wellstone Action

In 2009 John Lewis was listed as a member of the advisory board[20] of Wellstone Action, a Minnesota based organization based on the political legacy[21] of that state’s late ‘progressive” Senator Paul Wellstone.

Wellstone Action and Wellstone Action Fund combine to form a national center for training and leadership development for the progressive movement. Founded in January 2003, Wellstone Action's mission is to honor the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work through training, educating, mobilizing and organizing a vast network of progressive individuals and organizations.

Mobilization to End Poverty speakers

The Mobilization to End Poverty Conference was held in Washington, D.C. from April 26 - 29, 2009, and was hosted by Sojourners and sponsored by World Vision.

The following were speakers at the conference:[22]

President Barack Obama was also invited to give a major address on poverty at the conference.

SNCC re-union

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee held its 50th anniversary conference at Shaw University here, April 15-18, 2010.

At its founding here on April 17, 1960, the now-legendary civil rights organization adopted its first formal program. Life long Communist Party USA activist Debbie Bell was a founding member, serving alongside Julian Bond, Harry Belafonte, John Lewis , Freedom Singer and Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Bernice Johnson Reagon, the Revs. David Forbes and James Lawson, Joyce Ladner and Dick Gregory.

All these founders spoke at the anniversary event. There were speeches too by Attorney General Eric Holder and actor Danny Glover.[23]

They agreed with Rep. Lewis when he characterized the election of President Obama as "down payment" and when he said we need to organize and push forward to cash in on that down payment..

21st Century Democrats

On July 28, 2010, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congressman Elijah Cummings and former "Green Jobs Czar", Van Jones spoke about the future of American politics at the kick-off event for 21st Century Democrats' 2010 Youth Leadership Speaker Series. The event was sponsored by Representative John Lewis and Senator Tom Harkin.[24] 21st Century Democrats is led by one-time DSAer, Jim Scheibel.

Lifting travel ban on Cuba

A May 03, 2013 Press release from the radical controlled and Institute for Policy Studies affiliated Latin America Working Group's Cuba Team stated:

Due to your action/emails/phone calls we have 59 signatures from House representatives urging President Obama to support travel to Cuba by granting general licenses for ALL current categories of travel.
By eliminating the laborious license application process, especially for people-to-people groups, that is managed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the majority of the bureaucratic red tape that holds up licensable travel to Cuba would disappear and actually facilitate what the President wanted to see in 2011, liberalized travel regulations.

Signatories included Rep. Lewis.[25]

Immigration rally arrest

More than 20,000 people - including thousands of unionists -- who marched down the Washington, D.C., Mall on Oct. 8, 2013, to demand the U.S. House immediately pass comprehensive immigration reform. And 200, including 90 union leaders and union members and eight members of the House of Representatives were arrested when, in an act of civil disobedience, they blocked a street in front of the Capitol.

Arrestees included Lisa Bergmann, SEIU 1199 member Delphine Clyburn and activist Joelle Fishman, both also from Connecticut, Communications Workers Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hall and Political Director Yvette Herrera, The Newspaper Guild's president, Bernie Lunzer, and Paul Booth, the top assistant to AFSCME's president. Among the nation's top labor leaders also taken into custody were AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, AFT President Randi Weingarten, Unite Here President D. Taylor and Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Among the lawmakers arrested were Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Joseph Crowley (D - N.Y.), Al Green (D-Texas), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

Unions, led by contingents from the Service Employees and their Local 32BJ, the Laborers and Unite Here, contributed a large share of the demonstrators. Other unions represented included AFSCME, the Communications Workers/TNG, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, AFT and the United Farm Workers. [26]

Staff

The following are past and present staff:[27]


External links

References

  1. http://www.politico.com/arena/bio/john_lewis.html
  2. Huffington Post, From Organizer To Elected Official, Peter Dreier, September 8, 2008
  3. [http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2009/02/02/090202taco_talk_remnick, The New Yorker, The President’s Hero by David Remnick February 2, 2009]
  4. [http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2009/02/02/090202taco_talk_remnick, The New Yorker, The President’s Hero by David Remnick February 2, 2009]
  5. National Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee letterhead circa 1962
  6. Eugene V. Debs Foundation homepage, accessed march 14, 2011
  7. Arkansas Democrat, February 1964, page 44
  8. AIM Soviets Funded Black “Freedom” Journal, Cliff Kincaid — May 4, 2012
  9. Undated, GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee letterhead circa 1969
  10. PWW Support for jobs bill grows, Evelina Alarcon, Oct. 1 1994, page 3
  11. Democratic Left, July/August 1996, page 21
  12. DSA website: Members of the Progressive Caucus (archived on the Web Archive website)
  13. Congressional Progressive Caucus website: Caucus Member List
  14. Congressional Black Caucus: Members (accessed on Feb. 24, 2011)
  15. Dem. Left, Summer 2002
  16. American Radio Works website: Trips sponsored by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation
  17. http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:tva3nAppzCEJ:www.dsausa.org/convention2007/Convention%2520Agenda.pdf+John+Lewis+atlanta+dsa&hl=en&gl=nz
  18. DSA National Convention November 9-11, 2007
  19. Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America newsletter, September 2012
  20. http://www.wellstone.org/about-us/board-directors
  21. http://www.wellstone.org/about-us/our-mission-goals
  22. Mobilization to End Poverty website: Speakers
  23. http://peoplesworld.org/sncc-50th-anniversary-meet-mixes-nostalgia-and-determination/
  24. 21st Century Democrats: 2010 Youth Leadership Speaker Series (accessed on Feb. 9, 2011)
  25. Update on Cuba Travel: We Gathered 59 Signatures, The LAWG Cuba Team: Mavis, Emily and Karina on May 03, 2013
  26. [PW,More than 200 arrested at immigration rights rally in D.C. by: Mark Gruenberg October 9 2013 http://peoplesworld.org/more-than-200-arrested-at-immigration-rights-rally-in-d-c/ ]
  27. http://www.legistorm.com/member/337/Rep_John_Lewis_GA.html. Accessed 12/07/2011