Today our country mourns a legend.
Last night, Congressman John Lewis passed away at 80 years old. Congressman Lewis leaves behind a legacy of courage, activism, and service of how far we have come and road map of how far we must go.
The son of sharecroppers, Congressman Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama. He was a warrior in the fight for civil rights. He was an honorable man who exuded grace and dignity while he fought passionately for racial equality and justice for all.
He was a friend and colleague of Dr. King, participating in sit-ins, joined the Freedom Riders to challenge bus segregation and was the last keynote speaker at the March on Washington in 1963.
In 1964, Lewis coordinated “Mississippi Freedom Summer”, a campaign to register black voters across the South and expose college students from around the country to the perils of African American life in the South. Lewis traveled the country encouraging students to spend their summer break trying to help people in Mississippi, the most recalcitrant state in the union, to register and vote.
John Lewis became widely known for his role in the march from Selma to Montgomery on March 7, 1965, a day known to many as Bloody Sunday. Lewis a fellow activist-led over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. At the end of the bridge, the marchers were met by Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with nightsticks. Lewis bore scars on his head from the incident for the rest of his life.
Congressman John Lewis, a Democrat, served as the US representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for more than three decades. During his tenure in Congress, he was widely viewed as the moral conscience of Congress due to his nonviolent fight for civil rights and never afraid to cause good trouble, necessary trouble.
Congressman Lewis legacy reminds us that at a time when our nation is divided, that “Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society. – John Lewis
Let us make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble!
Rest in Power Legend.
Yours in the movement,
Terence D. Stewart
Atlanta Black Pride