Release Date: 
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
John G. Paré Jr.
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2371
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

Congressman John Lewis to Participate in Civil Rights March for the Blind

Over One Thousand Blind Persons From Across the Nation To Participate

Atlanta, Georgia (June 20, 2007): Congressman John Lewis will march in solidarity with over one thousand blind Americans, their families, and friends in a historic civil rights march for the blind.  The March for Independence, organized by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), will take place on the morning of July 3.  Ambassador Andrew Young serves as honorary chairman of the event.  Blind representatives from all fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, will be participating in the march.

Congressman Lewis, who organized and participated in many marches during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, said: “Marching is a tremendous tool of individual empowerment and social change.  We used it in the Civil Rights Movement to dramatize our struggle against social injustice, and this March for Independence is simply a modern-day extension of that call for change.”  Congressman Lewis, along with NFB President Dr. Marc Maurer and other dignitaries, will address the marchers at a short ceremony in Centennial Olympic Park, where other special presentations will also take place.

“Like other minorities throughout history, the blind experience discrimination,” said Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.  “It is discrimination born of a false belief that the blind are incompetent and helpless, rather than of malice, but it is discrimination all the same.  Through our March for Independence, we will demonstrate to the people of Atlanta and to the world that the blind are not to be pitied; we are independent, capable, and ready to take control of our own lives and shape our own future.”

The march will begin at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Peach Tree Center Avenue, the headquarters of the NFB national convention, at 6:30 a.m.  Marchers will gather on Harris Street and proceed south on Courtland, turn west onto Edgewood, then along Marietta to the park.  The short program and ceremony will take place at 8:00 a.m.  Participants will then return to the hotel to kick off the opening session of the NFB national convention by marching into the hotel’s Marquis Ballroom.

In addition to being an important civil rights demonstration, the March for Independence will raise funds for the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the only research and training facility on blindness created, built, and directed by the blind.  The March for Independence is sponsored by the American Printing House for the Blind, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Comcast Cable Communications, and United Parcel Service.