Cairo, Illinois, 1962 SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) field secretary, later SNCC Chairman, John Lewis, and others pray during a demonstration.
Collection of the Myers School of Art, Gift of Patricia Cohen and Edward Sutton, 2019
We join the world in mourning the passing of civil rights legend, Congressman John Lewis 1940-2020
In the summer of 1962, a 22-year-old John Lewis and other members of SNCC knelt in prayer on the sidewalk in front of a “whites only” recreational facility as part of a peaceful demonstration effort aimed at integrating businesses and other public places in Cairo.
Danny Lyon, a University of Chicago student (later hired as SNCC photographer) hitchhiked to Cairo that summer, captured the poignant moment with Lewis, who would go on to become a longtime U.S. congressman from Georgia and American hero and icon of the Civil Rights Movement. The two men would remain life-long friends.
SNCC shared the image of the spiritual protest around the nation throughout the 1960s as a poster with the words “Come let us build a new world together” inscribed at the bottom.
A small group of Lyon’s civil right images (a recent gift to the school of art) will be exhibited this fall in the gallery along with the work of regional photographers.