Winning Essay by Megan W. from Georgia attending University of Georgia

Winning Essay by Megan W. from Georgia attending University of Georgia
“I have never really seen myself as a leader in the traditional sense of the word, I saw myself as a participator, an activist, a doer.” 
-Congressman John Lewis
You may find it hard to believe, but the person I look up to has been arrested 45 times for such offenses as a leader of sit-ins at a Woolworth lunch counter, disorderly conduct (riding on a bus with a “white” friend), and most recently in 2013 for a peaceful sit-in blocking a street in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC. 
Recently Congressman Lewis was “attacked” on social media as “all talk and no action”. I found that statement rather humorous as Congressman Lewis has as a long list of “actions”, which include being an original Freedom Rider helping protest segregation of black travelers in the deep south in the 1960s, Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee helping spread the non-violent change in equality for all Americans, helped lead a campaign to register African-American voters across the south and expose the injustice and peril of African-Americans throughout the south, and lastly, he was a leader of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Salma, Alabama where he was beaten so badly by state police he suffered a concussion as he suffered a skull fracture.
As a young boy, John Lewis was refused a library card as his local public library because of his race, since then he has been awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile of Courage Medal, numerous college and university honorary degrees, the Martin Luther King Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and successfully helped steer the passage of the creation of the National Museum of African American History.
I’m lucky to live near Congressman Lewis 5th district ( I actually live in the 6th Congressional District in the northern suburbs of Atlanta), and we are constantly aware of his fight for equality for all Americans. I am also lucky to have a father who as a librarian has shared recently books about Congressman Lewis’ life, to include his National Book Award winning series entitled The March, and a remarkable new picture book entitled Preaching to the Chickens; a biography of a young boy in rural Alabama growing up with the idea that his small words and actions can speak up for people who can’t speak for themselves.
The Honorable John Lewis has been called the “conscious” of the US Congress, and he is still dedicated to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building a beloved community for all Americans to live in, even fifty years after he started his personal stepping stone to create an America where everyone is treated equally and with respect.

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