WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders unveiled a new stamp Wednesday in a Capitol ceremony commemorating former Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who served more than three decades in Congress and died in 2020.
The stamp features a photograph of Lewis taken by Marco Grob on assignment for the August 26, 2013, issue of Time magazine.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said commemorative stamps tells stories, honor heroes and capture important moments in history.
“By adding John Lewis to this collection, we are honoring an extraordinary contribution to the American story and inspiring future generations to follow his lead,” McCarthy said.
Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general of the United States, said the main post office facility in Atlanta would be named after Lewis in an August ceremony. He said the Lewis forever stamp — which can be used to mail a one-ounce letter regardless of when the stamps are purchased or used — will be issued in July.
Lewis was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. He also joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and four other civil rights leaders in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He spoke to the vast crowd just before King delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech.
Lewis won his seat in Congress in 1986 and spent much of his career in the minority. After Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Lewis became his party’s senior deputy whip, a behind-the-scenes leadership post in which he helped keep the party unified.
Lewis was a forceful speaker with a booming voice. He would encourage colleagues and young visitors to the Capitol to find what he called “good trouble."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., now the Democratic leader in the House, recalled meeting Lewis on the House floor in January 2013. Lewis called the freshman lawmaker over and told him that Washington can be a rough place. “So, young man, I don't want you to get into any trouble, unless it's good trouble.”
McCarthy said he visited Selma twice with Lewis, including on the 50th anniversary of the march. He said he got goosebumps and tears that day thinking about how Lewis had been beaten nearly to death simply because he wanted to register people to vote and five decades later was introducing then-President Barack Obama to the crowd.
“He used what was right with America to fix what was going wrong in America,” McCarthy said.