Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Tim Scott, Jon Ossoff, and Susan Collins introduced The John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to establish a new fellowship within the Fulbright Scholarship Program. The John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship will support Americans in the study of nonviolent civil rights movements abroad.
U.S. Representative Nikema Williams, who now represents Lewis’ longtime congressional district in Georgia, and Representative Nancy Mace introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“There’s no better way to honor the giant that John Lewis was than to support young people following in his trailblazing footsteps,” said Senator Hickenlooper.
“Congressman John Lewis’ work during the Civil Rights movement paved the way for me and so many other Black Americans to reach opportunities we never could have imagined. I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to honor his legacy and carry on the work of making America the land of opportunity for generations to come,” said Senator Scott.
“Congressman Lewis’ life-long commitment to civil rights, nonviolence, and universal human dignity remain essential to local, national, and global progress. No one’s ideas or approach to public life have had more of an impact on me than Congressman Lewis’. This bipartisan legislation will ensure the Congressman’s vision for a better world remains an inspiration for future generations,” said Senator Ossoff.
“Congressman John Lewis was a civil rights icon who changed history at great personal sacrifice,” said Senator Collins. “In 2015, I was honored to be among those who joined him in Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March that he led. By supporting the study of nonviolent civil rights movements, this new fellowship would honor his legacy.”
“Congressman Lewis was a true trailblazer and fighter for civil rights in our country. His dedication to nonviolent civil protest is something we can all learn from in our contentious times. As the ranking member on the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, I can think of no better way to honor his legacy than the creation of a scholarship program to study the work he devoted his life to,” said Representative Mace.
“There is no more fitting a tribute to Congressman Lewis’ legacy or memorial to his impact on social and political change around the world,”said Linda Earley Chastang Esq., President and CEO of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation. “People all over the world have been inspired by the tactics of the Civil Rights Movement in our country to bring change in their own countries. Congressman Lewis observed that: ‘They were not convinced by our bombs, by our missiles or by our guns. They were inspired by the ability of non-violent direct action to bring peaceful change, dramatic change in the most powerful nation on Earth.’ The bill introduced by [Representatives Nikema Williams and Nancy Mace] in the House and John Hickenlooper in the Senate does exactly what we would envision: bring together and train the next generation of activists and advocates around the world on the history and use of nonviolence as the tool for change.”
The J. William Fulbright Scholarship Project is the largest U.S. international exchange program, sending over 370,000 young Americans abroad since its creation in 1946. The John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship would promote studies, research, and international exchange in the subject of nonviolent movements that established and protected civil rights around the world.
The full bill text is available HERE.