Home Community Appleton remembers its call to action from late civil rights leader

Appleton remembers its call to action from late civil rights leader


As the nation mourns the loss of an iconic figure in the civil rights movement, we in the Fox Valley can remember the wisdom and an exhortation for unity he brought to our community just five years ago.

Congressman John Lewis, who suffered pancreatic cancer, died late on Friday.

Lewis’ most recent visit to Appleton came in 2015 as Lawrence University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Lewis delivered the spring commencement address in June 2015 and was a surprise guest at Appleton’s Juneteenth Celebration.

The Post-Crescent covered Lewis’ Juneteenth visit. 

“You must never, ever give up,”Lewis said to those gathered at City Park. “You must never, ever give in. You must never, ever give out. We must keep the faith because we are one people. We are brothers and sisters. We all live in the same house: The American house.”

Lawrence University today posted a remembrance of Lewis, which includes video of his 2015 commencement address.

Lewis was among the original Freedom Riders and was one of the “Big Six” leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He suffered a skull fracture when beaten by police during the 1965 confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

He served as representative of Georgia’s 5th congressional district since 1987.

Lewis was 80 years old.