Rep. John Lewis was honored by the American Bar Association as the 2019 recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award. Over 500 attendees paid tribute to the life and legacy of Rep. Lewis.
The congressman was unable to attend, however he gave a magnificent “acceptance speech” that was broadcast on the big screen at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco.
Rep. John Lewis has dedicated his life to fighting for freedom, justice, and equal rights. He was arrested 40 times, five times as a member of Congress.
He is one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, a founding member and a Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the only one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington still living, and a 17-term congressional leader.
He is often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.”
“The lawyers of the Civil Rights Movement, under the strategic guidance of Thurgood Marshall, William Hastie and others, took the struggle for social justice out of the streets and brought it into the courtroom. Their success was a key component of non-violent social transformation,” said Rep. Lewis. There are powerful forces moving today, however, that want to undo what we accomplished just a few decades ago. We must power up to maximum strength and meet the legal challenges of these efforts to protect and defend the democratic society lawyers like Justice Marshall helped create. I am honored by the ABA’s award and encourage the continued work of ABA members to make this a fairer, just society,” he continued.
Rep. Lewis’s dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress and of Americans all over the country.
“Congressman Lewis is most deserving of this honor,” said Robert Harris, past President, National Bar Association. “He, like Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, epitomizes individual commitment, in word and action, to the cause of civil rights in this country.”
The attendees at the dinner included some of the Bay Areas “Who’s Who.” The Honorable U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, 2013 recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award, and his wife, Maria; Robert Harris, past president, National Bar Association, and his wife, Dr. Glenda Newell Harris; Wilfred Ussery, past president, Bay Area Rapid Transit, and his wife, Maxine; and Paul and Gay Plair Cobb, publisher and co-publisher, the Post News Group.