New stamp honors civil rights icon Lewis

By Ariyana Griffin 

Contributing Writer

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — A new U.S. postage stamp honoring the life and legacy of the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis was unveiled July 22 in a special ceremony at the Los Angeles Main Post Office branch on Central Avenue. 

On hand for the ceremony was U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Los Angeles Postmaster Jeremie Six, local elected officials, stamp collectors and other community members. 

The stamp features a portrait taken by Marco Grub for Time Magazine in 2013. Six said the photo “radiates John Lewis’s determination and seriousness of purpose, but it also reflects the humanity and decency that he possessed.” He added the stamp is a fitting tribute to “a man who sought to awaken the conscience of our country.”

Lewis was a civil rights activist and who dedicated his life to getting into “good trouble,” as he liked to say. 

He was part of the Nashville Student Movement, an original Freedom Rider, an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King Jr., and one of the three leaders of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, a day known in the civil rights movement as Bloody Sunday.

Waters called Lewis “a dear friend.”

“He was one of the most profound civil rights leaders this country has ever known,” she added. “Every year over 100 members of Congress, including me, travel to Selma, Alabama, and we walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We do this because this is a fight, and this is an march that John Lewis led.

“John R. Lewis was a revered figure in the civil rights movement. He devoted his life to strengthening our democracy by championing the right of every individual to register and cast their vote,” Waters continued.

“His unwavering commitment and numerous sacrifices for voting rights will forever place him among the greatest civil rights leaders in our country’s history. This iconic commemoration stamp is yet another way to ensure that John R. Lewis’s profound impact on America’s journey toward equality and justice is immortalized for generations to come.”

Lewis served on the Atlanta City Council before being elected to Congress, representing Georgia’s 5th District in 1986. He served for 30 years in Congress, retiring in 2016. In 2011, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, which is the highest civilian honor a person can receive

“One of the most important goals in our stamp program is to bring recognition to people that help make the nation great,” Postmaster Six said. “John Lewis later served more than 30 years in Congress where he continued to defend and build those gains through his civil rights activism and his leadership. He has done a lot of amazing things for many different people and he never backed down from ‘good trouble.’”

In addition to the South Los Angeles ceremony, a larger ceremony was held at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

The stamp is now available for purchase at usps.com/shopstamps, or at post offices nationwide. 

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