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Hickenlooper, Scott, Ossoff, Collins Successfully Include John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship Act in NDAA

Dec 12, 2023

Bipartisan bill would establish a new fellowship within the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Tim Scott, Jon Ossoff, and Susan Collins cheered the inclusion of their John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship Act, in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), expected to pass before year’s end. The senators’ legislation will create a “John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship” within the existing Fulbright U.S. Student Program to support Americans in the study of nonviolent civil rights movements abroad. 

“John Lewis fought for freedom and equality his entire life and inspired countless to follow in his footsteps,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “This fellowship will ensure his legacy echoes across future generations of civil rights leaders.”  

“Congressman John Lewis dedicated his life to making our country a more perfect union,” said Senator Scott. “The John Lewis Fellowship Program, which is now one step closer to becoming law, would ensure his legacy of unwavering conviction in the face of injustice lives on.”   

“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 Sen. Ossoff. 

“Congressman John Lewis was a civil rights icon who changed history at great personal sacrifice and whose unwavering commitment to nonviolent activism serves as an example for future generations,” 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 around the world, this new fellowship would honor and carry forward his legacy.” 

“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 Detria Austin Everson, 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 Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange scholarship, 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. 

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. 

Full bill text is available HERE. For full text of the NDAA, click HERE.


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