Below are Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ full remarks as prepared for delivery from night four of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
The Honorable Keisha Lance Bottoms
Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia
Democratic National Convention
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
I’m Keisha Lance Bottoms, a mother four, and mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, cradle of the civil rights movement and, like so many other cities, a place where the struggle for human dignity continues.
I’m proud to have grown up in this city, educated in its public schools and blessed to have known our “hometown heroes” like Dr. Joseph Lowery, Dr. C. T. Vivian, and our teacher, our friend, our conscience, our congressman, John Lewis.
He walked gently amongst us—not as a distant icon, but as a God-fearing man, doing what he could do to fulfill the as-yet unfulfilled promise of America.
People often think they can’t make a difference like our civil rights icons, but every person in the movement mattered—those who made the sandwiches, swept the church floors, stuffed the envelopes.
They, too, changed America. And so can we! The baton has now been passed to each of us.
We have cried out for justice, we have gathered in our streets to demand change, and now, we must pass on the gift that John Lewis sacrificed to give us, we must register, and we must vote.
In his parting essay written to us, Congressman Lewis expressed his pride in the activism that has swept our country and he reminded us that if we fail to exercise our right to vote, we can lose it.
Indeed, there are those who are disgracefully using this pandemic to spread misinformation and interfere with voting. Forcing many, in 2020, to still risk their lives to exercise their sacred right to vote—a right that has already been paid for with the blood, sweat, tears, and lives of so many.
So, let’s stand up for our children, our children’s children, and for this great democracy that our ancestors worked to build, and let’s vote. And let’s organize to get others to vote with us. You can help make this happen by texting VOTE to 30330.
We know how important it is that we elect real servant leaders, leaders like Joe Biden an Kamala Harris—people of honor and integrity, who hold justice close to their hearts and believe that the lives of my four Black children matter.
In the words of womanist poet Audre Lorde, “Your silence will not protect you.”
Congressman Lewis would not be silenced. And neither can we. Our votes can be our voice!
We cannot wait for some other time, some other place, some other heroes. We must be the heroes of our generation, because we, too, are America!