Recently I met civil rights icon John Lewis. This gentleman is not very tall in stature but he could certainly be described as a gentle giant. This U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district who has been serving since 1987, has been on a mission most of his life. His continued legacy to “recognize the dignity and worth of every human being” looms large yet miniscule in comparison to what he has endured throughout the years. Any conversation regarding the struggle for civil rights has to include the name John Lewis. He is mostly known for being on the front lines (along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) of many protests in the ‘60s and certainly one of the key figures in the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965. This was the march where state troopers brutally attacked the crowd. Lewis can be prominently seen being beaten by the troopers with a night stick.
Despite the struggle then, Lewis is still continuing the fight for equal rights even to this day.
As of late, Lewis has been a trending name in the news for his public refusal to attend the inauguration of the current President-elect. John Lewis has stated that he does not consider this man to be a legitimate President because of the alleged interference of Russia in the November 8, 2016 election. After hearing of Lewis’ remarks, the current President-elect has made several immature statements about Lewis including a tweet that read in part “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart……..” The President-elect also immaturely tweeted that Lewis is “all talk, talk, talk”………
All talk, talk, talk is not the words that many would use to describe this Gentle Giant who has dedicated his life for the betterment of others. Check out some of the quotes from John Lewis:
“When I was growing up, my mother and father and family members said, ‘Don’t get in trouble. Don’t get in the way.’ I got in trouble. I got in the way. It was necessary trouble.”
“Second-class citizenship is not citizenship at all.”
“Courage is a reflection of the heart—it is a reflection of something deep within the man or woman or even a child who must resist and must defy an authority that is morally wrong. Courage makes us march on despite fear and doubt on the road toward justice. Courage is not heroic but as necessary as birds need wings to fly. Courage is not rooted in reason but rather Courage comes from a divine purpose to make things right.”
“People around the world will not be inspired by our missiles and our guns; they will be inspired by our ideas.”
“I have not accomplished everything I wanted to. I would like to, before I leave this little piece of real estate, do a little more for the cause of peace. To end the violence here at home and violence abroad. We spend so much of our resources killing each other.”
“We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back.”
“When Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, he helped free and liberate all of us.”
“I disagree with the court that the history of discrimination is somehow irrelevant today. The record clearly demonstrates numerous attempts to impede voting rights still exist, and it does not matter that those attempts are not as ‘pervasive, widespread or rampant’ as they were in 1965. One instance of discrimination is too much in a democracy.”
“Imagine that. I was beaten near to death at the Rock Hill Greyhound bus terminal during the Freedom Rides in 1961. Now the police chief is black.”
“We all recognize the fact that if any radical social, political and economic changes are to take place in our society, the people, the masses, must bring them about. In the struggle, we must seek more than civil rights; we must work for the community of love, peace and true brotherhood. Our minds, souls and hearts cannot rest until freedom and justice exist for all people.”
“I believe in nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living. I believe that this idea is one of those immutable principles that is nonnegotiable if you’re going to create a world community at peace with itself.”
“I know maybe it won’t happen in my lifetime, but I know somehow in some way we’re going to create the Beloved Community, that we’re going to create a national community, a world community that is at peace.”
“When we were organizing voter-registration drives, going on the Freedom Rides, sitting in, coming here to Washington for the first time, getting arrested, going to jail, being beaten, I never thought—I never dreamed—of the possibility that an African American would one day be elected president of the United States.”
John Lewis was a part of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and he has continued the fight for people’s rights.
There is now a growing list of Democrats, at least 42, who have indicated that they will boycott the inauguration on Friday to protest this criticism as well as the President-elect’s overall view of humanity. Today I salute this “gentle giant”, Congressman John Lewis.