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Civil rights icon John Lewis to speak at UCSD graduation

Civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis

SAN DIEGO — Civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman John Lewis will be the UC San Diego commencement speaker at the ceremony in June, the university announced Thursday.

Lewis, a Democrat, will take the stage June 16 when he addresses 15,000 graduates and their families at the all campus commencement ceremony.

UC San Diego officials said that Lewis and the university share the same values of “public service and inclusive excellence.”

Lewis helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches, which ended in a clash with Alabama state troopers that became known as Bloody Sunday.

He plans to discuss his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in his speech, the university said.

“Rep. John Lewis has dedicated his life to making our world a better place for everyone by protecting human rights and securing civil liberties,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “He stands up for what he believes in and he is not afraid to take risks. These are ideals we aim to convey to our graduates as they commence their careers and lives beyond the classroom.”

Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986, representing most of Atlanta. He is currently senior chief deputy Democratic whip and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.