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Peter Roskam Surprises John Lewis With Artful Homage

Rep. Peter Roskam broke from regularly scheduled committee business Wednesday to present civil-rights icon turned solon Rep. John Lewis with a personalized painting commemorating the historic March on Washington in 1963.  

(Courtesy Peter Roskam)

(Courtesy Peter Roskam)

The Illinois Republican paused while presiding over the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee to reflect on the determination Lewis showed during the dark days currently being chronicled in an ongoing series of graphic novels. “What a privilege to sit on a dais with somebody who worked so hard to improve the world for all of us. Because we are all better off, every one of us, regardless of our racial background, we are all better off today because of the work and the tenacity and the moral clarity and the courage in light of physical trauma that John Lewis, as a very young man, was willing to endure,” Roskam said of the myriad obstacles Lewis has faced in his lifelong battle against inequality.  

Roskam then unveiled a painting — dubbed “Dreams of Freedom” — that his wife, Elizabeth, painted. In it, the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is depicted addressing a sea of faces in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  

Lewis told HOH he very much appreciated the colorful reminder.  

“It was very kind and thoughtful of them both,” the 15-term lawmaker said of the unexpected gift.  

“She did a great job portraying the likeness of Dr. King and the multitude of people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. I love the work,” Lewis said, adding that he is torn between displaying the “wonderful” image in his Cannon workspace or at home in Atlanta.  

In addition to putting Lewis on the spot, Roskam distributed complimentary copies of the Georgia Democrat’s memoir, “Walking with the Wind,” to fellow committee members. Lewis said he signed several books before departing from the hearing, and indicated that the outstanding editions would be autographed in short order.  

Related: Elizabeth Roskam Readies Bibi’s Dome Roskams Welcome 114th Congress with Vivid Vistas ‘March: Book Two’ Follows John Lewis Through Hell See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.