A civil rights hero who continued his social justice work until his final days, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was considered “Georgia State’s Representative” in Congress. He was also a frequent presence on our Atlanta Campus and never declined an opportunity to inspire our students with his wisdom, character and courage. Since his death, this towering mural a block from campus has served as a place for mourners to gather and pay respect. Here are some of Lewis’ most memorable visits to Georgia State.
Georgia State faculty looked on as John Lewis delivered his address to the incoming class during the 2014 Freshman Convocation.
Lewis posed with (from left) Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Wendy Hensel, Student Government Association President Jazmin Mejia, President Mark Becker and Vice President for Student Engagement and Programs Allison Calhoun-Brown at Georgia State’s Freshman Convocation on Aug. 25, 2019, for which he was the keynote speaker.
Lewis shook hands with guests at a campus signing for his book, “March: Book Three,” which was assigned as a summer reading project for Georgia State’s 2019 first-year students. “March: Book One” was also a first-year book in 2014.
“John Lewis became ‘Georgia State’s Representative’ the year after I arrived on campus, and I had the honor of working with him many times for more than 30 years. What is most striking to me is that he never once turned down an invitation to speak to our students. When I was teaching courses on ethics, he was always willing to speak to my classes. In recent years, when we asked him to be our speaker at Freshman Convocation, he did so not once but twice. In 2014, convocation was held on a 95-degree August afternoon. Rep. Lewis had agreed to sign his book for our students at the outdoor block party for 30 minutes. The line of students grew longer and longer, and the day grew hotter and hotter. He insisted on talking to each student individually and refused to leave until he had spent time with every student in line. He was many things: a leader, a hero and an inspiration. He was also, at heart, an educator.”
— Tim Renick, senior vice president for student success
Lewis met with student members of Georgia State’s 1913 Society during a visit to the Atlanta Campus on Nov. 4, 2013.
Lewis was a frequent visitor and avid supporter of Georgia State.
An impassioned Lewis gave the 2019 freshman class memorable advice at Georgia State’s Freshman Convocation last August.
Lewis shared words of wisdom with the Georgia State men’s basketball team during a campus visit Nov. 4, 2013.
John Lewis became “Georgia State’s Representative” when he was elected to the House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District in 1986. In this Jan. 5, 1987 photo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photographic Archive in the Georgia State Library’s Special Collections, Lewis had just arrived in Washington, D.C. for his inauguration.
Crowds in mourning left flowers, photographs and special tokens as a tribute to Lewis following his death on July 17, 2020.