145th Annual Commencement

Congressman John Lewis
Congressman John Lewis

Civil Rights Leader, Congressman John Lewis to deliver HU Commencement Address

Hampton, Va. - Hampton University is pleased to announce Civil Rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis will serve as the University’s 145th Commencement speaker on May 10, 2015. Commencement will be held at Armstrong Stadium at 10 a.m.  

Often called "one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced," John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls "The Beloved Community” in America.   His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress. 

As a young boy, Lewis was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Ever since then, he has remained at the vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States. While still a young man, Lewis became a nationally recognized leader, and was dubbed one of the "Big Six" leaders of the national Civil Rights Movement.

At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activities, including sit-ins and other activities. He later served as director of the Voter Education Project, helping to register millions to vote. In 1977, Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of the federal volunteer agency ACTION.

In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. While serving on the Council, he was an advocate for ethics in government and neighborhood preservation. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since then.

Lewis received a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Fisk University, and is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary, both in Nashville, Tennessee.  He has been awarded more than 50 honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States.