Jeff Bezos has donated $ 100 million to the Obama Foundation in honor of civil rights icon, Representative John Lewis, according to a foundation announcement Monday.
The donation is the largest individual contribution received to date, and the Plaza at the Obama Presidential Center will be renamed John Lewis Plaza.
“The freedom fighters deserve a special place in the pantheon of heroes, and I can’t think of a more fitting person to honor with this gift than John Lewis, a great American leader and a man of decency and decency. extraordinary courage, ”said Jeff Bezos. in a statement Monday. “I am delighted to support President and Mrs. Obama and their Foundation in their mission to train and inspire the leaders of tomorrow. “
The son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis served in Congress for more than three decades, championing the causes he championed as the original Freedom Rider, challenging segregation, discrimination and injustice in the Deep South.
Along with Martin Luther King Jr., he was the organizer of the March on Washington in 1963, a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement that led to the adoption of black suffrage two years later.
John Lewis’ legacy: For John Lewis, a life of getting into “good trouble” left scars and a legacy
Want daily USA TODAY news on your smart speaker? Here’s how to do it.
He became a community activist and member of the Atlanta City Council before winning a seat in Congress in 1986. He would go on to become a best-selling author and in 2011 received the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Barack Obama, the country’s first black president. Lewis was elected for his 17th term in November 2018.
Lewis died at the age of 80 in July 2020.
“John believed in the power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” Michael Collins, administrator of the John R. Lewis estate, said in a statement. “His life was a testament to that notion and he would be a strong advocate for the training and support needed to inspire the next generation of leaders to follow in his footsteps.”
What is the Obama Foundation doing?
The Obama Foundation is involved in a variety of projects, many of which involve helping women and people of color.
One project, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, focuses on mobilizing mentors, reducing youth violence, and improving the lives of boys and young men of color.
The foundation also has a scholarship program for people focused on civic innovation and an academics program that pairs dedicated public service individuals with Columbia University professors to provide them with leadership and expertise. vocational training.
The Girls Opportunity Alliance continues First Lady Michelle Obama’s work to empower teenage girls around the world through education.
Obama hopes his presidential center, which opened in Chicago in September 2021, will become “the world’s premier institution” for developing the next generation of civic leaders.
“With Bezos’ donation, the Foundation seeks to change the paradigm around the designation of public spaces within the Center, using it as an opportunity to give donors the opportunity to honor and elevate the names of those who fought for a more just and equitable world, ”the Obama Foundation said Monday in a statement.
Dedicated public spaces at the Center will honor civil rights icons, social justice heroes and agents of change in public service, business and entertainment.
“We believe there is incredible power in raising the names of extraordinary change agents that we all stand on, and we are delighted with Mr. Bezos’ offer to name our magnificent Plaza in the honor to John Lewis, ”said the CEO of the Obama Foundation. Valérie Jarrett in a press release. “In addition, Mr. Bezos’ generous unrestricted donation will allow us to help develop a new generation of leaders through programs such as the Girls Opportunity Alliance, My Brother’s Keeper and our Global Leaders program, while also supporting the The Foundation’s Hometown Fund, which invests in expanding economic development opportunities for residents of the south side of Chicago.
Contribute: Ledyard King of USA TODAY
You can follow the author @ michelle_shen10 on Twitter.