Riley Ligon Lewis, Jr., a native son of Montgomery, Alabama passed away peacefully on Monday, September 23, 2013 at the home of his sister Mrs. Virginia L. Carson.
Mr. Lewis was the son of the late Riley L. Lewis, Sr., a switchman with the L & N Railroad, and Rosa Kennedy Lewis, an educator. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his sister, Doris L Robinson; brother, Roland E. Lewis; brother-in-law, Charles C. Carson, Sr.; niece, Margaret Rose Robinson Ingram and grandnephew Patrick Ingram.
Mr. Lewis attended Loveless School, Parker High School and Alabama State Teachers College. He served in the U.S. Navy, where he played in the band. Upon his separation from the Navy, Mr. Lewis worked at Maxwell Air Force Base in the motor pool. An avid photographer, he was a member of Jesse Lewis Associates, a Public relations firm in Birmingham, Alabama, where he worked as a photographer and liaison between the black workers and white supervisors.
Riley Lewis was one of the original “Freedom Fighters” and worked tirelessly with the Civil Rights Movement alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy in the struggle for freedom. He participated in several demonstrations throughout the 1960’s while continuing to work as a public relations consultant. In 1975 he ran for a Montgomery City Council seat, to help make a change from within. Mr. Lewis served as the Executive Director of the Rosa L. Parks Compendium, an organization that honors the historical figure in Montgomery. Before his illness, Mr. Lewis was the Organizer of the Alabama National Historic Trail Foundation, securing grants from the National Park Service.
He is survived by his beloved sister, Mrs. Virginia Lewis Carson; three nieces, Alice Carson Tisdale, (Dr. Henry N. Tisdale) Orangeburg, S.C.; Sylvia L. Carson of Wilmington, DE (friend, Adrian Allen); and J. Diaese Graves of Dover, DE; two nephews, Raymond C. Robinson (Millie Robinson) of Newport News, VA; and Reginald D. Carson, (Simone Silva Carson) of Atlanta, GA; five grand nieces and nephews, Christopher Ingram, Newport News, VA; Dr. Danica Tisdale Fisher (Dr. Damany Fisher), Andover, MA; Brandon K. Tisdale, Nashville, TN; Phoenix White, Pittsburgh, PA; and Nicholas C. Carson, Atlanta, GA; a devoted cousin, Dr. J. Rosemary Lucas Brown, of Montgomery, AL; and a host of extended family and friends in Alabama, Washington, D.C., and North Carolina.
Riley Lewis, like many who took part in the freedom movement, chose not to lead from the front, but lent his talents toward strategy, documenting the Freedom Movement, and protecting the families of both Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy. He will always be remembered as a “foot soldier” for his sterling contributions.
Page 2 of 2 - A memorial service will be held Friday, November 8, 2013, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Bennie Smith Funeral Home, 717 W. Division Street, Dover, Delaware. Interment will be Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 1:00 p.m., Old Oakwood Cemetery, 829 Columbus Street, Montgomery, Alabama.