John Lewis is awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-violent Peace Prize. It is the highest prize of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Social Change.
1975 (Jan 15)
John Lewis, executive director of the Voter Education Project (VEP), was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Non-violent Peace Prize for 1975. The award is the highest prize of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Social Change. The presentation was made by Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader, who said of Lewis: "We feel that this man exemplifies the life, the teachings, and the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr., and certainly has brought about in his efforts the kind of non-violent social changes in our society that have moved us forward and will continue to move us toward the dream. ... This young man is a very humble man, a deeply committed man, and a man whom I respect, admire, and love very deeply." Lewis began his civil rights career as a member, and later executive secretary, of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He participated in the first Freedom Rides in 1961 and was a principal speaker at the March on Washington in 1963. He was a leader of the Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights Marches. It was during the first of these marches in 1965 that Lewis received a fractured skull after Alabama law enforcement officers charged the crowd of peaceful demonstrators. As head of the VEP, Lewis directed programs to advance, through nonpartisan action, minority political participation. In receiving the award, Lewis said, “I am deeply moved and I hope that in the days, months, and years to come I will be worthy of this honor. As Dr. King said so many times, We've come a distance, but we still have a distance to go.”