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U.S. Congressman John Lewis has served in that role since 1987, and remains one of the most prominent and active members of Congress. Today is the former civil rights activist’s birthday.

John Robert Lewis was born in 1940 in Troy, Ala. to sharecropper parents. He attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. While in the city, he joined the peaceful lunch counter sit-in protests thus pushing him into civil rights activism. Lewis went on to join the Freedom Rides in the ‘60s, and in 1963, he became the chairman of  SNCC and aligned himself with the likes of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others.

Lewis was one of several protestors who were assaulted by angry white mobs during the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma, Ala. Despite suffering a fractured skull in the event, Lewis’ spirit wasn’t broken.

He ended up leaving  SNCC in 1966 and moving into other endeavors such as becoming director of the Voter Education Project, a cause that Lewis still fights for today.

In 1981, the former activist entered the world of politics after winning an Atlanta City Council seat. In 1986, he was elected to Congress, where he has remained ever since.

Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th District and has been a vocal opponent of President Donald Trump, while also continuing to be a voice for healthcare reform, education, and voting rights.

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