Lewis Foundation Reacts to John Lewis Stamp Announcement    

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced recently that it would honor John Lewis, the late Georgia Congressman, civil rights legend and champion for voting rights, with a new stamp in   2023.  The stamp is derived from a photo taken of Lewis by Time magazine photographer Marco Grob in 2013.    

 

In a written statement, the Postal Service said, “Lewis spent more than 30 years in Congress steadfastly defending and building on key civil rights gains that he had help achieve in the 1960s. Even in the face of hatred and violence, as well as some 45 arrests, Lewis remained resolute in his commitment to what he liked to call ‘good trouble.’” 

 

USPS’s announcement is “good news” for the Atlanta-based John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation. After all, the selection capped a two-and-a-half year campaign facilitated by the Foundation to persuade USPS to approve and release the forever stamp on a fast-track. 

 

“The Foundation reached out to the postal service a couple of weeks after Lewis’ passing in July 2020 because we saw it as an appropriate and great honor to place John Lewis on a commemorative forever stamp,” Linda Earley Chastang, president and CEO of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation, told the Michigan Chronicle. “We sought the assistance of Congressman Sanford Dixon Bishop from Georgia, asking him and a Georgia delegation to weigh in on our request.  We also reached out to the senators from Georgia and to the late Congressman’s fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, which launched and sustained a successful national letter-writing campaign.” 

 

Chastang, a former Chief of Staff and Counsel to Lewis in Congress, said a definite date for the release of the stamp has not been revealed to the foundation or the general public.  Yet, she believes the stamp will be made available in the summer of 2023.  Chastang added that the official release date will be announced by USPS and not the foundation.  Regardless, she is excited about the approval.  

 

“The fact that the stamp is scheduled to be released this summer is amazing because by the USPS’s own rules, the commemorative stamp committee doesn’t typically consider requests to honor someone on a commemorative stamp within three years of that person’s passing,” Chastang said, adding “ but the Postal Service agreed with us that John Lewis was a special person, who stood for so much that the sooner the stamp could get out there the better it would be.” 

 

Calling John Lewis a special person is perhaps an understatement.  Lewis’s public service career spanned 60 years.  While in his late teens, he learned about nonviolent protests and organized  lunch-counter sit-ins before becoming an original member of the Freedom Riders in 1961.   

In his early 20s, Lewis was the youngest speaker at the iconic March on Washington in 1963.  On March 7, 1965, Lewis, along with hundreds of other marchers attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., enroute to the state capitol of Montgomery to call for equal voting rights for Black people.  What started as a peaceful protest turned violently ugly when  Alabama State Troopers viciously attacked the non-violent marchers on the bridge, hurting several dozen demonstrators. Lewis suffered a cracked skull.  The halted march infamously became known as “Bloody Sunday.”  Two days later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led approximately 3.000 people back to the bridge before turning the marchers around, choosing to obey a court order not to make the full 54-mile march.  A third Selma to Montgomery March in late March proved successful.    

After serving on the Atlanta City Council, Lewis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he spent more than 30 years representing the Atlanta area.  Lewis passed on July 17, 2020.  

While the onus of when the John Lewis stamp will be released is up to the USPS, Chastang said when happens the stamp will generate excitement and have other positive effects on the public. 

“What’s so exciting about the stamp is John Lewis’ face is really the face of voting rights,” Chastang told the Chronicle.  “And when you have him on a stamp, people will be reminded every time that they see the stamp that voting rights and voting participation are critically important.  They will be reminded of the importance of civic engagement and getting into ‘good trouble.’” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Post Author

From the Web

X
Skip to content