Thursday, October 29, 2020
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Friends and Colleagues Celebrate the Legacy of Rep. John Lewis
By Sentinel Staff Report
Published July 23, 2020

FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

From left, Brown Chapel AME Church pastor James Jackson, then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Lewis and Rev. Clete Kiley sing at the end of a church service in March 2007 in Selma, Ala. (Rob Carr/AP Photo)

“Considering his enormous impact on the history of this country, what always struck those who met John was his gentleness and humility. Born into modest means in the heart of the Jim Crow South, he understood that he was just one of a long line of heroes in the struggle for racial justice. Early on, he embraced the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as the means to bring about real change in this country, understanding that such tactics had the power not only to change laws, but to change hearts and minds as well.”

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH

“Laura and I join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of Congressman John Lewis. As a young man marching for equality in Selma, Alabama, John answered brutal violence with courageous hope. And throughout his career as a civil rights leader and public servant, he worked to make our country a more perfect union. America can best honor John’s memory by continuing his journey toward liberty and justice for all.”

FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON AND FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON

“From a small farm in Alabama, to life-risking service in the civil rights movement, to three decades in Congress, he was always ‘walking with the wind,’ steered by a moral compass that told him when to make good trouble and when to heal troubled waters. Always true to his word, his faith, and his principles, John Lewis became the conscience of the nation.”

Sen. Hillary Clinton waves as she and Lewis meet during a campaign stop in Atlanta where he announced his support for Clinton in October 2007. Lewis dropped his support for Clinton’s presidential bid in February 2008 in favor of then-Sen. Barack Obama. (John Amis/AP Photo)

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER

“He made an indelible mark on history through his quest to make our nation more just. John never shied away from what he called ‘good trouble’ to lead our nation on the path toward human and civil rights. Everything he did, he did in a spirit of love. All Americans, regardless of race or religion, owe John Lewis a debt of gratitude.”

U.S. SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS 

Senator Kamala Harris with U.S. Representative John Lewis at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. (File Photo)

“Congressman John Lewis was an American hero—a giant, whose shoulders upon many of us stand. Throughout his life, he showed unending courage, generosity, and love for our country.

“As the son of sharecroppers in Alabama, John Lewis’ courage and vision placed him at the forefront of the civil rights movement. As the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, John Lewis knew the importance of bringing people together for an America that lives up to its ideals of liberty and equality for all.”

 

Lewis speaks during a media conference on Capitol Hill in May 2006. The bipartisan group of House and Senate officials met to voice support for legislation to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act for an additional 25 years. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

CONGRESSWOMAN MAXINE WATERS

Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., right, Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., are seen near the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Capitol Rotunda before a memorial service for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in Statuary Hall on Thursday, October 24, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)“Today is a sad day in American history. We have lost my dear friend and colleague of nearly three decades, Congressman John Robert Lewis. John Lewis was a revered civil rights icon who dedicated his entire life to what became his signature mantra, making ‘good trouble.’ Despite being one of the youngest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis galvanized and inspired hundreds of his peers to join in the fight for equal rights. He was a founder and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; he organized and led countless marches and freedom rides across the Jim Crow South; and he worked alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the struggle to secure the right to vote and end the demoralizing discrimination, unconscionable violence, and debilitating poverty facing Africans Americans. Very few people could have been harassed, arrested more than 40 times, beaten within inches of their lives, and still espouse Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolence, peace, and love. However, these principles were core philosophies to John Lewis, and our nation is forever indebted to him for his humble sacrifices.”

Then-Atlanta Councilman Lewis holds the March 1965 issue of Life Magazine in his office in Atlanta in August 1986. The cover photo shows Lewis leading the first Selma, Ala., civil rights march with Hosea Williams. (Ric Feld/AP Photo)

CONGRESSWOMAN KAREN BASS

“We must live up to the legacy that Congressman Lewis has left us. We must never stop fighting for social justice. And again, the first thing we need to do is to pass the Voting Rights Act and get it signed, because we’re very concerned about the election coming up and voter suppression, and the fact that people are going to have to vote in dangerous conditions. They need to be able to vote from home.”

CONGRESSMAN JIM CLYBURN 

“The country lost a hero last night. The movement lost an icon. And I lost a personal friend. But I do believe that as the sun set on John Lewis’s life last night, the sun rises on a movement that will never die. Thank you, John, rest in peace my brother.”

THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS

“The world has lost a legend; the civil rights movement has lost an icon, the City of Atlanta has lost one of its most fearless leaders, and the Congressional Black Caucus has lost our longest serving member. The Congressional Black Caucus is known as the Conscience of the Congress. John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus.”

REV. JESSE JACKSON

“We met as fellow protestors in 1960. Two weeks ago, John agreed to co-chair this year’s voter registration drive. He was the gift that kept on giving. This has been a difficult season. First, Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Dr. King’s Chairman of SCLC’s Board for 27 years, and now we have lost Rev. C.T. Vivian and John Lewis, on the same day.  In the 1960’s we broke out of the bubble of segregation. John became the valedictorian of our class. John Lewis is what patriotism and courage look like. He sacrifices and personifies a New Testament prophet. Andrew Young and I prayed for John Lewis & C.T. Vivian on Thursday as we convened those who I went to jail with in 1960. Good Night, I will see you in the morning. #GoodTrouble”

ATLANTA MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS

“The City of Atlanta’s Congressman Lewis is an American hero and one of the pillars of the Civil Rights Movement. Congressman Lewis was also revered as the dean of the Georgia Congressional delegation whose passionate call to “make good trouble” became a generational rallying cry for nonviolent activism in the pursuit of social justice and human rights.”

The Dalai Lama sits with Lewis during a public speech in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in October 2007. (John Amis/AP Photo)

HANK AARON, BASEBALL GREAT

“John and I connected to the roots. By that I mean we were born and grew up in the highly racist and segregated south, in the state of Alabama. He committed his life to the struggle for justice and equality for all people. He was one of the great civil rights icons and led a life of service for the betterment of all mankind. We have lost a giant of a man.”

THE NAACP

“He fought harder and longer than anyone in our nation’s continuing battle for civil rights and equal justice.”

THE REV. AL SHARPTON

“My friend, role model, and activist extraordinaire has passed. Congressman John Lewis taught us how to be an activist. He changed the world without hate, rancor or arrogance. A rare and great man.”

 

Six leaders of the nation’s largest black civil rights organizations meet in New York’s Hotel Roosevelt in July 1963 to plan a civil rights march on Washington. From left: John Lewis, chairman, Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee; Whitney Young, national director, Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, president of the Negro American Labor Council; Martin Luther King Jr., president Southern Christian Leadership Conference; James Farmer, Congress of Racial Equality director; and Roy Wilkins, executive secretary, NAACP. (Harry Harris/AP Photo)

BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

“Farewell, sir. You did, indeed, fight the good fight and get into a lot of good trouble. You served God and humanity well. Thank you. Take your rest.”

STACEY ABRAMS, GEORGIA POLITICIAN

“Defender of justice. Champion of right. Our conscience, he was a griot of this modern age, one who saw its hatred but fought ever towards the light. And never once did he begrudge sharing its beauty.”

TOM PEREZ, CHAIR OF DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE

“Congressman Lewis never failed to remind us of our moral obligation towards one another. He lived his life acting on behalf of those facing injustice and oppression and then encouraged us to do the same — from the streets of Selma to the halls of Congress.”

ASSEMBLYMEMBER MIKE GIPSON 

“Congressman John R, Lewis was a giant whose life was spent in the pursuit of racial justice. This sharecropper’s son valiantly marched and strived for equality and civil rights for all. Rep. Lewis was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders and founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which integrated lunch counters. He never backed down and repeatedly placed himself in harm’s way, charging into fires of hate, emerging with a bloodied body and a re-energized mission. Photos of the violent beatings of Rep. Lewis and protestors shocked and spurred the nation into action. In 1965, within days of Bloody Sunday in Selma where he suffered a fractured skull, the Voting Rights Act was passed. As a role model and champion for justice, he challenged everyone including myself to get into some ‘good trouble.’ He chose courage over fear and urged us to keep protesting for change and always choose love over hate.  I now challenge everyone in this country to honor his legacy of activism by becoming a change agent, get into some ‘good trouble’ and exercise our right to vote.”

Lewis speaks during a news conference in Jackson, Miss., in June 1964. He called on President Lyndon Johnson to protect summer volunteers in Mississippi and said civil rights workers face harassment arrests and violence in Mississippi. (Jim Bourdier/AP Photo)

MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT & CEO NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE 

“John Lewis is one of the great Americans of his generation. He walked side-by-side with civil rights legends, and stood toe-to-toe with presidents – always serving as a moral compass pointing toward justice. At the age of 21 he chose to put himself in harm’s way as one of the original Freedom Riders, rolling into the angry and segregated South to shine a light on the injustice and brutality that was commonplace. He was knocked unconscious at the Greyhound station in Montgomery; 40 years later he publicly forgave the former Klan supporter who led the attack. Alabama state troopers fractured his skull as he tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on  Bloody Sunday.  The list of sacrifices and acts of heroism is endless. Always, he emerged steadfast, with his eyes, his heart and his moral certitude focused on creating a better America. We will miss his voice. John was also a personal hero, a friend and a mentor. In 2013, the National Urban League recognized him with our highest honor, the Civil Rights Champion Award. In his presence, I was reminded that I stand on the shoulders of history. That this icon reached back to pull the next generation of leaders like me to the front of the line was at once life-affirming and humbling.  He was always affable, always available, always fighting—until the very end. May he rest in power.”

CHARLES STEELE, JR., PRESIDENT & CEO SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE 

“John Lewis will always be known as a civil rights icon. He was a fighter and a great man that was anointed by God to stand on the bridge of Selma. He became world renown for his courage, endurance, commitment, and nonviolent approach in the fight for justice for all mankind. His collaboration with other organizations is what made the movement what it is today. That is why we have an extension and expansion of the civil rights movement through Black Lives Matter. Congressman Lewis supported Black Lives Matter as far as the concept and its meaning of justice and equality for all of God’s children. One of the reasons the SCLC has life today is because of his commitment to the organization. He supported my installment as president and CEO. Because of his close relationship with Dr. King, his support meant a lot to us, and we thank God for his leadership. But the key world when remembering John Lewis is collaboration. We are missing collaboration today in terms of the structure of all civil rights and the upward mobility in the fight for justice and equality for African Americans and poor people. Congressman Lewis will be missed. He should always be the model we use to take our movements to the next level

Categories: Celebration of Life | National | Political
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