Lillian Miles Civil Rights Hero John Lewis’ Ex-Wife

Lillian Miles

Lillian Miles was married to Civil Right icon, John Lewis for 44-years before her death in 2012. Her husband has a been a human right figure for decades, but let’s find out more about the woman who was always by his side.

Lillian Miles’s husband was born February 21, 1940. The son sharecroppers grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County, Alabama.

As a student at Fisk University, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.  In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South.

During the height of the Movement, from 1963 to 1966, Lewis was named Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped form. SNCC was largely responsible for organizing student activism in the Movement, including sit-ins and other activities.

In the early 60’s he was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

In March 1965, on the day that would become known as ‘bloody Sunday’ a 25-year-old Lewis would become nationally known after leading over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. That day, Lewis was beaten by a State Trooper and was one of 58-people who received medical assistance.

In 1981, he was elected to Atlanta City Council, and five years later, he was elected to Congress, where he still serves as US Representative of Georgia’s Congressional District.

According to many of his bios, Lewis is recognized as one of the most courageous persons in the Civil Rights Movement.

He has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, and his efforts have won him the respect of both Republicans and Democrats. The Alabama native has received over 50 honorary degrees from prestigious universities, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 by President Barack Obama.

In modern days, it seems Lewis is still ready to give a fight. The 76-year-old civil rights leader –who has been arrested over 40 times for his activism –appears to be in a bitter feud with president-elect Donald Trump, after saying during an interview he does not think he is a ‘legitimate president.’

Lewis also said he planned to skip Trump’s inauguration next week.


Lillian Miles was married to Lewis from 1968 until her passing in 2012.


Lillian Miles was a devoted wife to John Lewis. According to media reports, the couple met at a New Year’s Eve party in 1967. Less then a year later they wedded at Ebenezer.

According to Atlanta Magazine, the couple settled into a home in southwest Atlanta and adopted son, John Miles Lewis.



Lillian Miles was born in Los Angeles, she worked as a librarian at Atlanta University when she was introduced to John Lewis, by a mutual friend.

She was right next to him campaigning as he made his way to Congress. Some reports say Lillian Miles never imagined her husband going to Washington, nonetheless she always supported him.

In a paragraph from Lewis’ memoir “Walking With the Wind” he wrote about his wife

“She had always been very involved in politics, much more than I. She had been a delegate (supporting Shirley Chisholm) to the Democratic National Convention in ’72, and she was constantly active in a variety of local circles and organizations. She was outgoing, involved, intelligent and great in front of an audience – she could make a speech. She also knew how to organize, how to chair a meeting, the nitty-gritty stuff. When she finally said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s go for it,’ that was enough. We were in.”

Lillian Miles Lewis died in Atlanta on December 31, 2012.