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David Greenberg: "John Lewis: A Life"

A comprehensive, authoritative biography of Civil Rights icon John Lewis, “the conscience of the Congress,” drawing on interviews with Lewis and approximately 275 others who knew him at various stages of his life, as well as never-before-used FBI files and documents.

Born into poverty in rural Alabama, Lewis would become second only to Martin Luther King, Jr. in his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. He was a Freedom Rider who helped to integrate bus stations in the South, a leader of the Nashville sit-in movement, the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, and the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he made into one of the major civil rights organizations. He may be best remembered as the victim of a vicious beating by Alabama state troopers at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he nearly died.

Greenberg’s biography traces Lewis’s life through the post-Civil Rights years, when he headed the Voter Education Project, which enrolled millions of African American voters across the South. The book reveals the little-known story of his political ascent first locally in Atlanta, and then as a member of Congress. Tapped to be a part of the Democratic leadership in Congress, he earned respect on both sides of the aisle for the sacrifices he had made on behalf of nonviolent integration in the South and came to be known as the “conscience of the Congress.”

Thoroughly researched and dramatically told, Greenberg’s biography captures John Lewis’s influential career through documents from dozens of archives, interviews with hundreds of people who knew Lewis, and long-lost footage of Lewis himself speaking to reporters from his hospital bed following his severe beating on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma. With new details about his personal and professional relationships, John Lewis: A Life is the definitive biography of a man whose heroism during the Civil Rights movement helped to bring America a new birth of freedom.

About the Author: 

David Greenberg is a professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University and a frequent commentator on historical and political affairs. He is the author or editor of several books on American history and politics including Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image and Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency. Formerly acting editor of The New Republic and then a columnist for Slate, Greenberg now writes regularly for Politico, Liberties, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. His work has also been featured in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous academic journals. In support of this book Greenberg won awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Cullman Center of the New York Public Library, and the Leon Levy Center for Biography. He holds a PhD in history from Columbia University and a BA from Yale and lives with his family in Manhattan.

About the Program: 

  • To attend in person please register here
  • Doors will open to registered attendees at 6 pm. 
  • A local bookseller will be on-site and have books available for purchase.
  • Free parking vouchers are available to program attendees who park at the Franklin Street Garage (15 W. Franklin Street) after 4pm.  Ask Pratt event staff for your parking voucher prior to or after the program. 
  • This free event will be presented in-person and virtually.   

Virtual Meeting Information

There is no registration required for virtual attendance, simply visit the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Facebook or Youtube page. 

Tuesday, October 15 at 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Central Library, Wheeler Auditorium
400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Event Type

Writers LIVE!, Black History, Virtual Event

Age Group


Compass Category

Writers LIVE at the Library

Compass Sections

Writers LIVE (including Best & Next Series)

Event Publisher

Cleve Corner, Manager of Speaker & Author Engagement

Digital Signage



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