John Lewis, 2017
acrylic on canvas
20 x 30 in
As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Georgia Congressman John Lewis was the youngest of the “big six” leaders who organized 1963’s March on Washington. One of the original Freedom Riders, he became a hero of the civil rights movement on March 7, 1965, “Bloody Sunday,” the day he led some 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. When they stopped to pray, they were attacked by nightstick wielding state troopers. Lewis suffered a fractured skull, but managed to bravely go before the TV cameras, calling for President Lyndon Johnson to intervene in Alabama.
Joan’s portrait of him shows a man bristling with courage and dignity.
“His bravery went above and beyond,” she says, admiring his commitment to nonviolent protest that continues to this day. A leader of many lunch counter sit-ins back in the day, Lewis led a Democratic party sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2016, demanding action on gun control legislation following yet another mass shooting.
“By sitting in and sitting down,” he said, “we’re standing up.”