Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) spoke inside the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel at Bennett College on Oct. 19. Lewis has been a member of Congress since 1987 and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation, which includes three-quarters of Atlanta. Lewis was in Greensboro to endorse Democratic candidate Kathy Manning, who is running for North Carolina’s 13th congressional district.
Lewis was also in the state to encourage students to register and to vote. In fact, he rode with some Bennett College students to the polls so they could cast their votes early.
When he was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, Lewis helped organize the March on Washington at which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. Later, on March 7, 1965, state troopers attacked Lewis and other marchers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge while marching from Selma to Montgomery – in what is referred to as “Bloody Sunday.”
On Oct. 22, just three days after his stop at Bennett College, Lewis tweeted the following: “I have been beaten, my skull fractured, and arrested more than forty times so that each and every person has the right to register and vote. Friends of mine gave their lives. Do your part. Get out there and vote like you’ve never voted before.”
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, (D-N.C.), Rep. Dr. Alma S. Adams (D-N.C.) and State Sen. Dr. Gladys Ashe Robinson, chair of the Bennett College Board of Trustees, also attended the Oct. 19 event.
Bennett College President Dr. Phyllis Worthy Dawkins spoke at the event, which was sponsored by the Bennett College Student Government Association (SGA). At Bennett, students are encouraged to vote from the moment they enroll at the College. During elections, Bennett Belles can be seen marching to the polls. In fact, it was Adams, who taught art at Bennett for 40 years, who coined the phrase, “Bennett Belles are Voting Belles.”