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May 11

Graduate School of Education Commencement featuring Congressman John Lewis

Event Description

On Thursday, May 11, Bank Street Graduate School of Education’s Commencement ceremony will feature Congressman John Lewis as the keynote speaker. Tickets to the Commencement Ceremony are available for members of the Bank Street community, including faculty, staff, students, parents, and alumni.

Please RSVP if you are planning to attend. The ceremony will take place starting at 4:30 p.m. at Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive, New York, NY). Registered guests will be able to pick up tickets in the Bank Street lobby between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3rd – Wednesday, May 10th and at Riverside Church on the day of the event. If you are picking up your ticket at the event, please use the 91 Claremont Avenue entrance to the church. Please plan to arrive at Riverside Church by 3:30 p.m.

About John Lewis: Congressman John Lewis is a heroic civil rights leader who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to pioneer the use of non-violent direct action as a tool for social change. In 1961, he was one of the 13 original black and white Freedom Riders who fought segregation by sitting together on a Greyhound bus from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. The goal of this action was to pressure the federal government to enforce the 1960 Supreme Court decision that declared segregation unconstitutional on interstate bus travel. Lewis and the other freedom riders were beaten by angry mobs, arrested and taken to jail several times. After months of violence against steadily growing numbers of freedom riders and a chorus of international condemnation, the Kennedy administration issued orders to desegregate the buses. More importantly, this helped catalyze and expand a social movement that began to draw more and more people into the fight for civil rights.

In 1963, Lewis became the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a central role in organizing “The March on Washington.” At 23, he was the youngest speaker that day and is the last remaining living speaker. In 1964, Lewis coordinated the Mississippi Freedom Summer, a campaign to register black voters across the South. In Selma, Alabama in 1965, Lewis led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, pushing for the right to vote. When they stopped to pray, the unarmed protesters were attacked by police with clubs in what became known as Bloody Sunday. Lewis’s skull was fractured, but these actions led later that year to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important accomplishments of the civil rights movement.

Since 1987, Lewis has been a progressive leader in Congress, challenging Democrats and Republicans alike to live up to the vision of an equitable and just society. Just last year, he helped organize a sit in on the floor of the House demanding that the leadership allow a vote on gun safety legislation in response to the massacre in Orlando’s Pulse night club.

Lewis has also generously spent time meeting with students from our School for Children on their annual visit to Washington, D.C., answering their questions and sharing his experiences.

We are proud to honor such a courageous and strategic leader. As we enter a new chapter in our nation's history, there are important lessons we can all learn from Congressman Lewis about how to challenge injustice and generate meaningful social change.

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