Congressman John Lewis
1940 - 2020
John Lewis...is a genuine American hero and moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.
Often called "one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced," John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls "The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress.
Five things to know about Congressman John Lewis
Atlanta Constitution Journal
John Lewis lived at the forefront of American history for the past half-century. From being the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington to serving more than 30 years in Congress, Lewis helped shape civil rights in America for decades.
Mr. Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral.
The New York Times
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.
In the words of John Lewis
Don`t give up! Don`t give in! Keep the faith! And keep your eyes on the prize!
We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.
You have to have the capacity and the ability to take what people did, and how they did it, and forgive them and move on.
I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe that we have an obligation to condemn speech that is racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, or hateful.
If you're not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you're consistent, you will succeed.
I believe that you see something that you want to get done, you cannot give up, and you cannot give in.
I would say to a young person: continue to study. Study what is taking place in your community, in your neighborhood, maybe at your school.
Be hopeful. Be optimistic. Never lose that sense of hope.
The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.
The civil rights movement was based on faith. Many of us who were participants in this movement saw our involvement as an extension of our faith. We saw ourselves doing the work of the Almighty. Segregation and racial discrimination were not in keeping with our faith, so we had to do something.
MLK, Jr. taught me how to say no to segregation, and I can hear him saying now... when you straighten up your back, no man can ride you. He said stand up straight and say no to racial discrimination.
You cannot be afraid to speak up and speak out for what you believe. You have to have courage, raw courage.
If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.
Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?
I met Rosa Parks when I was 17. I met Dr. [Martin Luther] King when I was 18. These two individuals inspired me to find a way to get in the way, to get in trouble. So I got in good trouble, necessary trouble.
Never give up. Never give in. Never become hostile… Hate is too big a burden to bear.
Not one of us can rest, be happy, be at home, be at peace with ourselves until we end hatred and division.
When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.
When you make mistakes, when you’re wrong, you should admit you’re wrong and ask people to forgive you.
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