The Postal Service celebrated the John Lewis stamp release at Morehouse College in Atlanta on July 21.
Lewis (1940-2020), a longtime U.S. House representative, was a key figure in some of the most pivotal moments of the Civil Rights Movement.
He was the face of the Nashville Student Movement, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an original Freedom Rider and the youngest keynote speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington.
Lewis led hundreds of peaceful protesters on a march in Alabama from Montgomery to Selma, where they were assaulted by state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The footage of this “Bloody Sunday” violence shocked the nation and rallied support for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“John Lewis was a freedom fighter, who helped redeem America’s betrayal of its constitutional principles, through his unshakable belief in the Christian doctrine of love, operating through the tactic of nonviolence,” said Ron Stroman, member of the USPS Board of Governors, who spoke at the ceremony.
“History honors John Lewis not just for what he did, but also for what his actions achieved,” Stroman said. “He forced our country to come to grips with its racism in ways that, heretofore, had not happened. We are a more democratic, compassionate and a better nation, because of what John Lewis and all who participated in the movement were able to achieve.”
Joining Stroman for the ceremony were Lewis’s son, John-Miles; U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff; U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock; Lawrence Carter Sr., Morehouse College professor and dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel; Henry Goodgame Jr., Morehouse College external relations and alumni engagement vice president; Linda Earley Chastang, president and CEO of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation; Michael Collins, chair of the foundation; Peggy Wallace Kennedy, civil rights activist and author; and former Atlanta mayors Bill Campbell and Shirley Franklin.
Activist Alfre Woodard served as the emcee. Performers included the Ebenezer Baptist Church Choir; singers Bettie Mae Fikes, Dottie Peoples and Victory Brinker; and dancer Logan Byrd.
The John Lewis stamp is available in panes of 15 at Post Offices and usps.com.
Derry Noyes, an art director for USPS, designed the Forever stamp with a photograph taken by Marco Grob for Time magazine.
The image, Stroman said, “radiates John Lewis’s determination, and seriousness of purpose, but it also reflects his humanity and his decency.”
He continued: “Look carefully at how the shadow falls on the right side of his face, illuminating the left side, in a way that seems to take the viewer from darkness into the light — a fitting tribute to a man who sought to awaken the conscience of a country.”