The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) announced that the National Racial Equity Initiative for Social Justice fellowship program will bear the name of the late Hon. Congressman John R. Lewis. The iconic civil rights leader died July 17 from cancer at the age of 80.
“Congressman Lewis was a leader and a legend who dedicated his life and career to the pursuit of racial and social justice,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, chair of the CBCF Board of Directors, in a statement. “It is an honor to offer this opportunity to social justice leaders who will now carry the torch so brightly lit by Rep. John Lewis.
The initiative was renamed to the John R. Lewis Social Justice Fellowship. According to the CBCF website, fellows are responsible for the production of policy analysis and research as it relates to education, economic opportunity, incarceration, the courts, and law enforcement.
“Rep. Lewis was the exuberance of the Civil Rights Movement and a pillar of the Congress,” said CBCF president and CEO Tonya Veasey. “His work and personal sacrifices helped to build the democracy we have today, and he worked until the time of his passing to challenge the injustices present and prevalent today.”
Lewis was elected to Congress in 1986 and was the senior ranking member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Known as the “conscience” of Congress, he was a fearless fighter for freedom and a champion of justice and equality.
Before being elected, Lewis helped shaped the civil rights movement and served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was also the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. In 2011, Lewis was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
Applications are now open for the John R. Lewis Social Justice Fellowship. For more information, visit cbcfinc.org/nrei.