john_lewis_001 Designed in appreciation of the service and dedication of leaders from around the world who have significantly impacted tourism and inspired the exploration of black culture and heritage sites around the globe, the African Diaspora World Tourism Awards (ADWTA) ceremony and Travel Expo was held onApril 27th, 2013 in Atlanta, Ga.

The ADWTA gala ceremony recognized these leaders in two parts: 1) “Who’s Who” and 2) “Who’s Who Hall of Fame” in Black Culture and Heritage Tourism. The “Who’s Who” category recognized professionals who have done outstanding work in the field. The “Hall of Fame” category  paid tribute to notables who have made legendary contributions that have significantly impacted black culture and heritage tourism development.

Notables and professionals in these two categories were honored with awards. Tourism professionals included tour operators, heritage site administrators, cultural heritage scholars, festivals organizers, museums founders and directors, tourism executives, art gallery and cultural center directors, ministers of tourism, governmental officials, association leaders, exhibitors, writers, publishers, preservationists, cultural artists.

Because Congressman Lewis has significantly impacted black culture and heritage tourism, he was inducted into the ADWTA “Hall of Fame.” He has helped with lawmaking on some of the nation's most significant tributes and monuments recognizing black cultural heritage. Rep. Lewis chaired the congressional task force that led to the prominent placement of two plaques in the visitor's center of the U.S. Capitol acknowledging contributions of slave labor. He co-wrote the legislation authorizing the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. Lewis introduced a resolution in 1986 to encourage and support efforts to build the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture scheduled to open in 2015. Because of his legislative efforts, the Selma Bridge in Alabama has become part of the Civil Rights National Historic Trail.

ADT_AwardsThe Democratic U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district and Dean of the Georgia Congressional Delegation, Rep. John Lewis, since his election in 1987 has been re-elected 17 times, each time winning with at least 69 per cent of the vote and once as much as 78 per cent. Lewis was one of the Big Six leaders in the American Civil Rights Movement. He played a key role in the struggle to end legalized racial discrimination segregation. Lewis helped plan the historic March on Washington in 1963 for Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. At 23 he was the youngest speaker that day, and is the last remaining speaker from the march. By the time he was elected chairman of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee a few years later, he had been beaten by mobs and police, and arrested 24 times in the non-violent struggle for justice.

Lewis became nationally known during his prominent role in the Selma to Montgomery marches and on March 7, 1965- a day that would become known as "Bloody Sunday"- Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Met by Alabama State Troopers who discharged tear gas and beat them with night sticks, Lewis's skull was fractured, and he bears head scars that are still visible today.

Because of his courage and tenacious adherence to the philosophy of reconciliation and non-violence, he emerged as a leader, and today he is recognized as one of the most important leaders of the Civil Rights movement. Known among his colleagues as the "Conscience of Congress," Lewis served as a member of Atlanta City Council and a member of the Carter administration before being elected to Congress, Lewis is the recipient of many awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2010, the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, the First Lyndon Baines Johnson Liberty and Justice for All Award and the Dole Leadership Prize from the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics and many others. In 2012, Lewis was awarded honorary LL.D. degrees from Brown University, Harvard University, and the University of Connecticut Law School.

The African Diaspora World Tourism Awards cermony was presented by AfricanDiasporaTourism.com in association with the AD King Foundation of Atlanta. Celebrated broadcast personality, Monica Kaufman Pearson, winner of 30 Emmy Awards, was the mistress of the ceremony. Winners of the two main awards were Dr. Ewart Brown of Bermuda for culture and heritage tourism "Person of the Year" and the King Center for "Heritage Site of the Year."  To learn more about the awards ceremony, visit AfricanDiasporaTourism.com/worldawards.html.

Photo: Congressman John Lewis with Kitty J. Pope, founder of the ADWTA ceremony.