The John Lewis Youth Leadership Award was established in 2021 by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), aims to honor the extraordinary accomplishments of Congressman John Lewis.
His courageous achievements during the Civil Rights Movement and his long tenure of public service have inspired and will continue to inspire Americans for generations to come. In 1961, at the age of 21, Lewis was one of the original thirteen Freedom Riders. In 1963, Lewis was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington and also one of the “Big Six” leaders that organized the march. In 1965, Lewis helped lead the Selma to Montgomery marches. The first march took place on March 7, 1965 at the Edmund Pettus Bridge where unarmed marchers were attacked by state troopers. The event later became known as “Bloody Sunday” and was a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Lewis’ activism at an early age continued throughout his life and he served as a U.S. Congressman for 33 years until he passed away in 2020.
The John Lewis Youth Leadership Award was created in February 2021, as a way for NASS members to recognize a gifted, civic-minded young person in their state each year. The recipient should demonstrate leadership abilities, have a passion for social justice, and be motivated to improve the quality of life in their community.
View a video featuring the 2023 award recipients here.
- The recipient must be 25 years or younger at the time of the award presentation.
- The recipient is recognized in their community for being civic-minded and improving the quality of life in their community. The community must be in the awarding NASS Member’s state/territory.
- The recipient has shown a meaningful commitment to address civil rights issues, including but not limited to voting rights, and to authentically bring about positive change in his or her community.
- Examples could include youth leadership in a specific project or program, advocacy, or even literature as the Congressman also won a National Book Award for young people’s literature.
Please send a picture of the recipient with the award order form. Up to ten pages of supporting materials, including news releases, news articles, or social media posts may be included as part of your submission, as long as they are digitized (no hard copies, please).
- Each NASS member may award two NASS John Lewis Youth Leadership awards per calendar year.
- Only award orders from dues-paying state member offices will be fulfilled.
- The John Lewis Youth Leadership award may not be ordered less than 30 days prior to the conclusion of the member's term in office.
- Under no circumstances is it permissible for a Secretary of State/ Lt. Governor to present a John Lewis Youth Leadership award for partisan or political purposes.
- Under no circumstances is it permissible for a Secretary of State/ Lt. Governor to present the John Lewis Youth Leadership award for personal, financial or professional gain.
The NASS John Lewis Youth Leadership Award must be ordered through NASS and paid for by the awarding state/territory.
The award will be engraved as follows -
John Lewis Youth Leadership Award
National Association of Secretaries of State
By State Secretary of State/Lt. Governor
Hon. First Name Last Name
Pictures, short video clips, social media posts and/or news releases of the award presentation should be submitted to NASS to be compiled and shared with NASS members at each NASS Winter Conference.
State offices will be responsible for issuing their own press releases and external news content announcing the presentation of the award in their state. Then NASS will amplify that content on social media.