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Reunion Troy seeks to honor Lewis

The Reunion Troy committee is busy making plans for a weekend event that will honor Pike County native and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who was elected to represent metro Atlanta in the United States House of Representatives in 1986.

Stephanie Baker, committee chair, said plans are tentative at this time but the committee is working diligently to confirm the plans in early January.

Lewis was born in rural Pike County in 1940 to sharecroppers. He was inspired by the examples of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose segregation.

He participated in lunch counter sit-ins while attending college in Nashville.

He was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and, at age 23, he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Lewis was among marchers severely beaten and tear-gassed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, an event that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Lewis was regarded among “the Big Six’ leaders during the Civil Rights movement era.

The Georgia Congressman will be the keynote speaker at the opening session of the 2018 Leadership Conference that is hosted annually by Troy University and the City of Troy on the first weekend in February and held on the university campus.

Lewis will address the Leadership Conference on Friday night February 2.

“Plans are to honor Congressman Lewis during an afternoon ceremony on Saturday, February 3,” Baker said. “The ceremony will include the unveiling of a recognition marker honoring Lewis and several presentations and proclamations.”

The plan and the hope are that Lewis would be available to address local high school students at a common location on Friday. However, Baker said everything hinges on Lewis’ schedule and commitments.

“A grant has been written that would provide funding for the purchase of copies of Congressman Lewis’ “Walking with the Wind” for each high school student,” Baker said. “We want the students to be informed and ready to ask questions if Congressman Lewis is available to speak to them.”

As the Alabama Bicentennial edges into the second year of its three-year-long celebration, John Lewis Day is the Reunion TROY’s initial event to “Honor Our People.”

“In 2017, we have ‘Explored Our Places,’” Baker said. “In the year 2018, we will ‘Honor Our People’ and, in 2019, we will ‘Share Our Stories.’”

Baker said throughout the New Year, the Reunion TROY committee will continue to honor the people who have brought distinction to Pike County in a variety of ways.