Georgia lawmakers to introduce bill for fellowships honoring John Lewis

Two Georgia congressmembers are leading efforts to create student fellowships in honor of the late civil rights leader and Atlanta congressman John Lewis.

The John Lewis Civil Rights Fellowship would fund international internships and research placements to study nonviolent movements to establish and protect civil rights, according to a draft version of the legislation U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams’ office provided The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Williams, an Atlanta Democrat, is serving in the congressional district once represented by Lewis. On Monday, she will co-sponsor the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, her office said. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., is expected to co-sponsor the legislation in the U.S. Senate, Williams’ office said.

Twenty five people would be selected annually for the program. The program would operate in accordance with policy guidelines established by the federal government’s Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which promotes other international internships.

Lewis learned his non-violent civil rights strategy in part from studying passive resistance in other parts of the world.

Linda Earley Chastang, the president and CEO of a foundation named after Lewis and his late wife, Lillian, said the fellowship would help train activists and advocates worldwide on nonviolence as the tool for change.

“We are delighted to know that you, too, believe there is no more fitting a tribute to Congressman Lewis’ legacy or memorial to his impact on social and political change around the world,” Chastang wrote in a letter to Williams in support of the bill.