In 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders ran what may be his last presidential campaign. Now, he is using his position as a modern progressive icon to mobilize the young Americans that will ultimately inherit the country.

As the longest-serving independent American congressperson, Sanders has been a consistent thorn in the side of the establishment, and his unexpected rise into the national spotlight has energized a new generation of public servants and activists. While his fame has come with his ascent, as well as his dissent, Sanders has earned a lifetime of accolades as a champion of civil and human rights. His revolutionary spirit and his political foundations were born in the 1960s, when he attended the University of Chicago and joined the fight for civil rights.

The New York-native transferred to UChicago from Brooklyn College in 1961 during the height of racial unrest across the nation, and he quickly joined nonviolence and racial equality organizations. When most students would have been studying, Sanders was either leading sit-ins protesting the school’s housing segregation policies or getting arrested while demonstrating against Chicago Public Schools.

During his time at UChicago, he also landed on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement, attending the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King delivered his renowned “I Have A Dream” speech. His activism at the university paved the way for a long career as a progressive leader as he rose from the Mayor of Vermont to his position in the U.S. Congress.

Throughout his time in public service, Sanders has held close the lessons and values he gained through his social activism at UChicago as he has fought for justice and equality in Washington. During his 2016 presidential campaign, he returned to the university to share his experiences with the students starting from the same place as he did 50 years ago. Although his political career may be winding down, Bernie Sanders remains committed to ensuring America’s next generation controls their own destiny.