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    [ # ] Civil rights movement pioneer to receive Dole Leadership Prize
    September 26th, 2007 under Institute Programs

    From the Lawrence Journal-World 

    johnlewis1.jpgU.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, will be the recipient of this year’s Dole Leadership Prize, the Dole Institute of Politics will announce today.

    Lewis was a leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and was beaten by the police in retaliation for his actions. He was among the leaders of the march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery, an event that would later be recognized as a turning point in the movement.

    “Here’s someone who has every right to be bitter and angry and throw his hands up and say the system doesn’t work, but he didn’t do that,” Dole interim director Jonathan Earle said. “He works through the system to achieve the goals he set out to achieve in the 1960s.”

    It was never an option, Lewis said, to become upset by the system.

    “Someplace along the way I was taught and also came to believe that hate was too heavy a burden to bear,” Lewis said. “The way of peace, of love, of nonviolence is a more excellent way. I didn’t have time to become bitter. I didn’t have time to become hostile.”

    lewis3.gifLewis will receive the prize and give a lecture at the Lied Center on Oct. 21. The event starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are available from the Lied Center box office.

    Lewis said in his speech he would try to encourage young people to identify a cause and commit themselves, mind and body, to achieving that cause.

    “Young people need to understand today that we didn’t wait for people to come from some other part of the world to tell us to do one, two, three or a, b, c. We did it ourselves,” he said.

    Earle said Lewis has expressed an interest in visiting with students Oct. 22, but was trying to determine whether that would work with his schedule. Congress is in session when the prize will be presented.

    “I’m deeply honored and appreciative to be receiving this award named for Senator Bob Dole,” Lewis said. “Over the years, now more than 40 years, I’ve tried to do what I could to make our country a better country, a better place.”

    Earle cited several reasons in deciding to award the leadership prize to Lewis.

    lewis4.gif“The first one is his actual heroism in the civil rights movement,” Earle said. “He was someone who was on the front line during some of the bloodiest battles of the civil rights movement.”

    Lewis’ public beating was instrumental in converting Northern whites to the cause of civil rights for blacks, Earle said.

    Earle said it was a privilege to give the leadership prize to Lewis because he’d always looked up to the politician as one of this heroes.

    Previous winners of the Dole prize include former Sen. Howard Baker, who was given the award for 2006; former Polish President Lech Walesa; former New York City Mayor and current presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani; and former Sen. George McGovern. The prize is accompanied by a $25,000 cash award.

    “(Lewis) is going to do a great, old-fashioned, rabble-rousing speech,” Earle said. “This is a real American hero.”

    More links: John Lewis (politician)johnlewis2.jpg

    The Online Office of Congressman John Lewis

    Congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights Leader

    Biography: John Lewis Champion of Civil Rights

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