Atlanta’s Tribute to Freedom & Resistance through the eyes of John Lewis
Recognizing the significance of Congressman John Lewis's lifetime of service to our city, state, and country, I introduced legislation to create a task force to explore opportunities to honor him. On March 6th, 2017, City Council unanimously passed resolution 17-R-3218 to establish the John Lewis Task Force.
Comprised of 12 members ranging from State Representatives, Civil Rights Leaders, Faith Community, CM Lewis’ Staff, and Community Advocates, the task force determined over the following months to honor the Congressman's life in three major ways:
- Renaming Freedom Parkway in honor of John Lewis
- Adding artistic and structural enhancements to John Lewis Commemorative Park
- Establishing a permanent art and memorabilia exhibit at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Members of the John Lewis Task Force
Andre Dickens, Chair
Former Mayor Shirley Franklin
Reverend Raphael Warnock
Mignon Morman Willis
Rick Baker, Merrill Lynch
Camille Love, Department of Cultural Affairs
Dr. Joycelyn Wilson, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ayisha Jeffries Cisse
GA Senator Nan Orrock
GA Senator Nikema Williams
Renaming Freedom Parkway and Enhancing Freedom Park
On August 22nd, 2018 we unveiled the newly renamed John Lewis Freedom Parkway to a crowd of hundreds at Freedom Park. The event kicked off with Congressman Lewis and the Task Force arriving at Freedom Park via a chartered MARTA bus. As the group made their way into the park, they were accompanied by friends, family, and political leaders from across the southeast.
As they walked, the the Clark Atlanta University Mighty Marching Panther Band and dancers played them down to the pavilion. On stage, Mayor Keisha Lance bottoms joined Councilmember Andre Dickens and John Lewis in announcing the street name change. Rousing speeches from all three moved and delighted the crowd.
After the presentation was over, Congressman Lewis pulled the cord to unveil the brand new sign at the corner of John Lewis Freedom Parkway and Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Unveiling the John Lewis Tribute Wall
After months of planning, designing, and preparing, the Tribute Wall to Honor Congressman John Lewis was unveiled on April 8th, 2019. Designed by artist Gary Lee Super, and featuring a beautiful mural painted by renowned artist Alexi Torres through a generous gift by Task Force member Rick Baker, the installation is truly magnificent. The wall is located just outside the atrium, and does not require visitors to pass through security to view it. This was a main focus of the task force, as they wanted to ensure that people from all walks of life have the opportunity to view the exhibit for free.
The installation features historical artifacts from the Congressman's life, include some very historical items like his Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a pen used by President Lyndon Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Additionally, the installation highlights four key phases in the Congressman's life, as a preacher, a student activist, a visionary, and a public servant. Audio and video samples mark significant events in his life of service.
The unveiling itself featured speeches from Coucilmember Dickens, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Congressman Lewis, and the artists and airport employees involved in bringing the wall to life. Georgia Department of Transportation Commission Russell McMurry spoke about the state's generous contribution of highway signs directing residents and guests to John Lewis Freedom Parkway.