In honor of his memory, our Team hereby presents this courtesy the team at the New York Times on his Final Words & their Reflections as we say: #RIPJOHNLEWIS as you made Good Trouble Sir:
July 30, 2020
The brief essay that Representative John Lewis sent me two days before his death — to be published today, on the occasion of his funeral — expresses the hope for national healing and reconciliation that guided his life’s work.
For too many Americans, the civil rights movement is visible only in the rearview mirror of memory. Black and white photographs of demonstrators being attacked by police dogs and fire hoses; of lunch counters and schoolhouses, separate and unequal and in the past.
Mr. Lewis lived that history, of course. But his most urgent plea was that the work of the civil rights movement remains unfinished, and that conscience commands us to look to the future. Important civil rights legislation sits stalled in Congress at this very moment, held up by the patently false assertion that racial discrimination no longer exists.
Mr. Lewis served as a member of Congress for 33 years before his death from pancreatic cancer on July 17. Before ever being sworn in as a lawmaker, he’d already borne so much for America.
Mr. Lewis’s moral authority “found its headwaters in the aggressive yet self-sacrificial style of protests that he and his compatriots in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee deployed in the early 1960s as part of the campaign that overthrew Southern apartheid,” the editorial board wrote in remembrance.
The fight for civil rights was brutal. “I remember John had no reservations about going down and sitting in and knowing that we could be injured. You could be clobbered,” his classmate, Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr., remembered in a recent Op-Ed. “I was there on the bus platform in Montgomery, Ala., when they hit him over the head with a Coca-Cola crate and smashed his head.”
John Lewis’s commitment to nonviolent protest never wavered, not through dozens of attacks and arrests, not through the reversal of hard-won gains, not even in the final weeks of his life as the country erupted in unrest over the police killing of George Floyd.
His final words ask us to cast our eyes forward. “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself,” he wrote in today’s Op-Ed. I’d also recommend listening to it being read aloud in the powerful audio version.
Americans who want to honor Mr. Lewis and continue his fight for civil rights can do so by urging their lawmakers to restore the protections enshrined in the Voting Rights Act, for which Mr. Lewis fought so ardently. Ensuring that all Americans can exercise the right to vote was Mr. Lewis’s unfinished work. It’s up to the nation to finish it.