Nashville to celebrate civil rights icon John Lewis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville leaders on Friday unveiled a new historical marker remembering former Rep. John Lewis, kicking off a weekend celebrating the civil rights icon.
Earlier this year, Nashville’s Metro Council renamed a large portion of Fifth Avenue to Rep. John Lewis Way. Councilwoman Zulfat Suara submitted the request last year, focusing on Lewis’ work to desegregate Nashville’s lunch counters before becoming a long-serving congressman in Georgia.
“Nashville prepared me. If it hadn’t been for Nashville, I would not be the person I am now,” Lewis once stated.
The celebration event was originally scheduled for February but was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Events include a formal street dedication of Rep. John Lewis Way on Saturday, with a mile-long march to the Ryman Auditorium immediately following. At the Ryman, a ceremony will include author Jon Meacham, Rev. James Lawson and musicians Rodney Crowell.
As a college student at American Baptist College and then Fisk University, Lewis helped desegregate public spaces in Nashville and pushed for racial justice across the South. Lewis was a Freedom Rider, he spoke at the March on Washington and he was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama.
Lewis died July 17, 2020. He was 80.