The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) has named civil rights activist and U.S. Representative John Lewis (Georgia, 5th District) as this year’s recipient of the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award. The award honors Congressman Lewis for his decades-long crusade to protect and secure human rights and civil liberties for all Americans.
The award and $125,000 prize are given biennially to a leader or team who has “improved the quality of life of those in the United States and inspired others to do the same.” The award will be presented to Lewis at a public ceremony at Harvard Kennedy School on April 18. The ceremony will include a conversation with Lewis moderated by ImeIme Umana, M.P.P.’18, J.D. ’18, Sheila C. Johnson Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership and incoming president of the Harvard Law Review. Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf will deliver remarks.
For almost sixty years, John Lewis has led and served as one of this country’s most formidable civil rights activists. As a boy he was inspired by action surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He carried this early inspiration with him through college, organizing sit-ins and serving as one of the South’s first Freedom Riders. At the young age of 23 Lewis firmly established himself on the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement.