Almost two years after his death, on what would have been his 82nd birthday, Congressman John Lewis’ vision of a foundation to focus on “purposeful living and civic engagement,” is realized. The John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation (JLMLF) launched last month on what would have been the late civil rights icon’s 82nd birthday, Feb. 21.
The Atlanta-based foundation was conceived by Lewis before he died to carry on his and his wife’s passion. In 2018, he asked three long-time friends to commit to achieve the organization’s vision as the foundation board of directors. Upon his passing in July 2020, the board launched strategic planning to create the path forward.
“There could be no better celebration of my father’s birthday than today’s announcement of The John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation,” John-Miles Lewis, the Lewises’ son, said via a statement. “When my dad thought of this foundation, it was his vision that it would support good work, inspire good troublemaking and do its part to make the world a better place.”
The foundation will “ensure that future generations have the tools and support to create their own ‘Good Trouble,’ realizing the Lewises’ dream that the power of individuals can reimagine and build a better society.”
The foundation will mark its launch in May with a gala on May 17 at the Hamilton Hotel’s Schuyler Ballroom in Washington, D.C. The gala will serve as a collective moment of reflection on the life and legacy of the civil rights icon John Lewis, celebrate the Lewises’ vision and values, and raise funds to underwrite initiatives that further the values John and Lillian Lewis lived.
“Throughout their lives, the Lewises consistently demonstrated their love of learning, their unwavering devotion to helping others and their steadfast commitment to peace and building the ‘beloved community’,” Linda Earley Chastang, president of The John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation and a former chief of staff to the congressman said via a statement. “They were dedicated to creating a world in which the dignity and worth of every human being is recognized and valued. We are honored to advance the Lewises’ vision.”
In addition to Chastang, the board of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation includes:
- J. Veronica Biggins
- Sherry Frank
- Helene D. Gayle, M.D.
- Frederick Humphries
- Lyndell Vaughn Vann
- Mignon Morman Willis
Born outside Troy, Ala. in 1940, Lewis became involved with desegregation efforts in the late 1950s and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. During a march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lewis was beaten by Alabama State Troopers. He was elected to Atlanta City Council in 1981 and then in 1986 was elected to Congress, representing Georgia’s 5th District. He served in Congress until his death in July 2020.
For more information about the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation visit www.johnandlillianmileslewisfoundation.org