On February 21, 1940, two sharecroppers bore a son who they named John Lewis. Lewis grew up to be a force to be reckoned with in so many important ways; especially for blacks in America. Even as a young kid, he became moved by the involvement of activists regarding the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He especially became enamored with the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Lewis was so captivated that he became a part of the Civil Rights Movement. He has since been on the forefront of the human rights struggle here in America. In a large since, Lewis is owed much more credit than he gets.
I recently met John Lewis at a Home Depot in Atlanta. He was there shopping with his son. I was surprised at how small he was in stature. I had pictured him to be a much larger man. Honestly, he is much larger than can be imagined. As a young man, Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. He was labeled one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and he was a keynote speaker at the celebrated March on Washington. He has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees from some of the most respected colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Princeton University, Duke University, Harvard University, Howard University, Morehouse College, and Fisk University.
Lewis recently sat down to be interviewed by the Associated Press and he spoke about the film “Selma”.
“It is very powerful. It is very moving. It is real. It is so real. It says something about the distance we’ve come in laying down the burden of race.” Lewis also addressed that day “Bloody Sunday” as it is now called.
“We broke down those signs that said, ‘White Waiting’, ’Colored Waiting’, ’White Men’, ’Colored Men’, ’White Women’, ’Colored Women’.’ We got a Voting Rights Act passed 50 years ago, a Civil Rights Act passed. But we still have a distance to go, Lewis said.
“In many communities today, the question of race is still very real. You can feel it. You can almost taste it. But you cannot deny the fact that America is a different America. Even in the heart of the Deep South, those signs are gone. And they will not return. People registered. And they are voting.”
One can only imagine the mental and physical struggle that this 75 year old man has ended. He was first elected to Congress in 1986. He is now serving his 15th term.
President Barak Obama and Former President George W. Bush will join Lewis and a bipartisan congressional delegation for part of a 3 day civil rights journey to Alabama on March 7, 2015 for the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.