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Reps. John Lewis, Terri Sewell to serve as keynote speakers for annual Leadership Conference

January 22, 2018

Two members of Congress will serve as keynote speakers during the 2018 Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month Feb. 2-3 at Troy University.

Rep. John Lewis, who represents Georgia’s fifth Congressional District, will deliver the conference’s opening address on Friday, Feb. 2, in Sartain Hall on the Troy Campus. The opening session will begin at 6:30 p.m. Rep. Terri Sewell, who represents Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, will serve as the conference’s luncheon speaker at 11:45 a.m. on Feb. 3 in the Trojan Center Ballrooms. Conference check-in will begin at 6 p.m. Feb. 2, in Sartain Hall.

The Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month was launched in 2002 by the University and the City of Troy to promote dialogue that fosters multicultural collaboration and equip diverse leaders with tools to better serve their organizations and communities. This year’s theme is “Change Agents: Civically Engaged, Academically Oriented and Financially Capable.”

Adult registration is $30 if completed online or received by Jan. 26. Student registration is $15 if completed or received by Jan. 26. A $10 late fee will be added to registrations after Jan. 26. Those wishing to participate can register online.

Born in Pike County in 1940, Lewis was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and became active in the Civil Rights Movement. As a student at Fisk University, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville. In 1961, he participated in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South.

Rep. John Lewis

During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Lewis was named chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which he helped form. By 1963, he was dubbed one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and was an architect and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August of that year. In 1965, he was among the leaders of the more than 600 protestors who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma en route to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. After being met by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation as protestors crossed the bridge, the event would come to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”

In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council and was elected to Congress in November 1986. He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.

John Lewis holds a B.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University, and he is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary, both in Nashville. He has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Harvard University, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Duke University, Morehouse College, Clark-Atlanta University, Howard University, Brandeis University, Columbia University, Fisk University and Troy State University.

Rep. Lewis will be honored by the City of Troy on Saturday afternoon following the conclusion of the conference.

Sewell, now in her fourth term, was one of the first women elected to Congress from Alabama and the first African American woman to ever serve in the Alabama Congressional delegation.

Rep. Terri Sewell

Congresswoman Sewell sits on the exclusive House Ways and Means Committee and brings to the committee her more than 15 years of experience as a securities and public finance attorney. She also serves on the distinguished House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence charged with the oversight of our national security. She is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on the Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture, a key subcommittee on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

As the member of Congress representing Alabama’s civil rights district, Congresswoman Sewell has been a passionate champion for recognizing and honoring the sacrifices of those freedom fighters who served as powerful agents of change, including legislation to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal to the “four little girls” that tragically lost their lives in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, as well as recognition for the foot soldiers of the Voting Rights Movement, which was signed on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”

Prior to her election in 2010, Congresswoman Sewell was the first black woman partner in the Birmingham law office of Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C., where she distinguished herself as one of the only black public finance lawyers in the State of Alabama. A proud product of Alabama’s rural Black Belt, Congresswoman Sewell was the first black valedictorian of Selma High School. She is an honors graduate of Princeton University and Oxford University and received her law degree from Harvard Law School.

In addition to the two keynote addresses, participants can take part in a variety of plenary sessions on Saturday morning. Plenary session speakers include: Dr. Khaalida T. Forbes, founder and chief executive officer, Metamorphosis Enterprises, LLC; Melvin C. Smith, Sr., investment advisor, Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp.; Dr. Dionne M. Rosser-Mims, associate dean in the College of Education at Troy University; Theo Moore, collections manager, Legacy Museum, Tuskegee University; and Chad Sanders, Woods Law Group, L.L.C., New Orleans, La.

Additional information about the conference is available by contacting Barbara Patterson at 334-670-3204 or by email at bpatters@troy.edu, or Sheila Jackson at 334-670-2283 or by email to Sheila.jackson@troyal.gov. Registrants who wish to pay by check should contact Patterson by phone.