The Hampton University graduating Class of 2015, Ogre 15, will have U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis as the commencement speaker at the May 10 ceremony.
In addition to his service representing Georgia's fifth district since 1987, Lewis is well known for leading the marched deemed, "Bloody Sunday" where he and more than 600 protesters attempted walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. March 7, 1965. The march to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state was met with brutal confrontation by Alabama State Troopers.
Lewis has been given several awards and distinctions throughout his career in public service. He was given the highest civilian honor granted by President Barack Obama, the Medal of Freedom, and the only John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage Award" for Lifetime Achievement ever granted by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
By 1963, he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, and at the age of 23, was an architect of and keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the famed, "I Have A Dream" speech.
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.
"Having John Lewis as our commencement speaker at this vital time in our development will be inspiring. I look up to John Lewis for setting the stage so we can come together as a student body and orchestrate events like the March for Mike Brown last semester," said Brielle Lewis, a fourth year MBA major and the HU NAACP president for the last two years. "I admire his courage for dedicating his life to such a cause that not only benefited him, but generations to come. I look forward to hearing his message."