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Resolution RS2020-477

A Resolution honoring the memory of Congressman John Lewis.

WHEREAS, on July 17, 2020, revered Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Robert Lewis died at age 80 after a battle with cancer; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Lewis was born to sharecroppers in Alabama on February 21, 1940. As a child, his family called him “Preacher” and as a young man he found inspiration in Dr. Martin Luther King. He came to Nashville in 1957 to study at the American Baptist Theological Seminary; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Lewis met civil rights activists in Nashville, including Diane Nash, and studied civil disobedience under Reverend James M. Lawson Jr. In February 1960, he and other students staged sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters in Nashville, which led to his first arrest; and

WHEREAS, these sit-ins lasted for three months and were ultimately successful. Because of the work of John Lewis and others, Nashville became the first major Southern city to begin desegregating public facilities; and

WHEREAS, after his graduation from seminary in 1961, Congressman Lewis became a member of the original 13 Freedom Riders who traveled across the South to challenge segregation. During this time, Lewis suffered beatings at the nonviolent demonstrations. In 1965, Lewis led a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to demand voting rights. State troopers ordered the protesters to disperse, and when they stood their ground, the troopers attacked the protesters. Lewis’s skull was fractured and the event became known as “Bloody Sunday”; and

WHEREAS, images of Bloody Sunday drew national attention to the issue of voting rights. Eight days later, President Johnson presented the Voting Rights Act to a joint session of Congress, which was signed into law later that year; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Lewis returned to Nashville later to attend Fisk University, graduating in 1967. He then worked with the Field Foundation, the Southern Regional Council, and the Voter Education Project. After this, he sought elected office. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1977. In 1980, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. He ran for Congress again in 1986, winning against his friend and fellow civil rights activist Julian Bond. Lewis won the race and served in Congress until his death; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Lewis sought to cause “good trouble”. He continued protesting while serving in Congress and was arrested several times. He demonstrated against apartheid, against genocide in Darfur, in support of the Affordable Care Act, and led a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to protest inaction on gun control; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Lewis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in 2011. In recognition of this honor and his contributions to Nashville, the Metropolitan Council declared March 23, 2011 as “John Lewis Day” in Nashville; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Lewis changed the United States through nonviolence. His protests desegregated Nashville, made way for landmark voting rights legislation, and fought racial injustice. Lewis continued this fight during his 33 years in Congress. It is fitting and proper that the Metropolitan Council go on record as honoring the memory of this extraordinary leader.


Section 1. The Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as honoring the memory of Congressman John Lewis, a Civil Rights icon who fought racial injustice in Nashville and across the United States.

Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.


Zulfat Suara, Delishia Porterfield, Burkley Allen, Russ Bradford, Bob Mendes, Sharon Hurt, Steve Glover, Jonathan Hall, Kyonzté Toombs, Jennifer Gamble, Robert Swope, Sean Parker, Brett Withers, Emily Benedict, Nancy VanReece, Tonya Hancock, Zachary Young, Larry Hagar, Erin Evans, Kevin Rhoten, Jeff Syracuse, Ginny Welsch, Colby Sledge, Thomas Cash, Freddie O'Connell, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Brandon Taylor, Gloria Hausser, Thom Druffel, Kathleen Murphy, Russ Pulley, Courtney Johnston, Bob Nash, Tanaka Vercher, Sandra Sepulveda, John Rutherford, Joy Styles, Antoniette Lee, Angie Henderson, Dave Rosenberg

Legislative History

Referred toRules, Confirmations, and Public Elections Committee

IntroducedJuly 21, 2020

AdoptedJuly 21, 2020

ApprovedJuly 22, 2020

ByMayor Cooper's signature

Requests for ADA accommodation should be directed to the Metropolitan Clerk at 615-862-6770.

Last Modified: 08/03/2020 2:09 PM