Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis will be the featured speaker at the Gov. Jim Blanchard Public Service Forum on Oct. 30 at Michigan State University.
“When we created the Blanchard Forum in 2015, the goal was to provide students, faculty and people in the MSU community with the opportunity to hear and learn from national and international leaders,” said Blanchard, former Michigan governor, U.S. congressman and ambassador to Canada. “We have gotten off to a tremendous start by bringing President Bill Clinton and filmmaker Ken Burns as our first two keynoters in 2015 and 2016. I’m proud that we’re continuing on that strong path with an honoree as distinguished as John Lewis.”
Jim and Janet Blanchard established the forum with a $1 million gift to MSU. The forum brings to campus leaders in public service, diplomacy, politics and journalism, and gives MSU students and others an opportunity to learn from their inspiring careers.
Lewis, who has represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district since 1987, is a member of the Democratic Party leadership in the U.S. House and has served as a chief deputy whip since 1991 and senior chief deputy whip since 2003. He is a noted author and was instrumental in the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He played many key roles in the civil rights movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States and he remains a strong voice on those topics. His work has garnered him numerous awards including the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“John Lewis is an icon. He has been a central figure in civil rights and American politics for decades,” Blanchard said. “We are excited to have our students and faculty hear from this great man. He is unparalleled in his dedication and we are honored to welcome him to Michigan State.”
The Blanchard Forum program is administered by the Department of Political Science in MSU’s College of Social Science. The evening event will be held at the Kellogg Center.
“The participation of John Lewis in the Blanchard Forum series is further evidence of the importance of this event for our college,” said Rachel Croson, dean of the College of Social Science. “Jim and Janet Blanchard have made it possible for our college to bring prominent leaders to the entire university community and the experience and breadth of knowledge shared by Mr. Lewis can be transformational for our students.”
Tickets will be available to the general public on Sept. 25 at socialscience.msu.edu/Lewis.