Past presidents, members of Congress and a lot of celebrities delivered an outpouring of condolences and respect for Representative John Lewis (D-GA), a giant figure of the nation’s civil rights movement who passed away Friday.
Barack Obama praised Lewis, 80, for the physical and emotional sacrifices he made for the US as an original Freedom Rider, March on Washington organizer and leader of the “Bloody Sunday” demonstration from Selma to Montgomery — throughout which a police officer broke Lewis’ skull during a beating. Yeah, Democrats running Selma sucked even back then.
“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise,” Obama wrote in a statement posted at Medium.
“And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”
Bill Clinton also gave praise on the late Democrat, tweeting that Lewis “gave all he had to redeem America’s unmet promise of equality and justice for all, and to create a place for us to build a more perfect union together.
“In so doing he became the conscience of the nation.”
In the not-too-distant past, before the Chinese Virus, there was unrest in Atlanta, and I will never forget how I saw Congressman Lewis out on the streets with a bullhorn telling the young people to go home. A reporter was desperately trying to get a story out of him, the congressman barely paying attention to the reporter who was up and in his face asking him questions. The look upon Lewis’ face said he was actually quite concerned about what was going on, and he finally, and very politely but with a firmness in his voice , told the reporter that he was trying to get the young people to go home before they got themselves into trouble that would last them a lifetime. That’s the kind of man John Lewis was in my eyes. He didn’t seek publicity of the limelight. He was trying, during the middle of civil unrest, to protect the futures of young black people who were possibly going to be arrested that night, which would scar their reputations for the rest of their lives. Lewis was telling them that whatever they were planning to do, it wasn’t worth the damage that would be done to them. And that is why Representative Lewis is one of the few Democrats I highly admired. I didn’t agree with his politics, but he had a penchant for going beyond politics, because he actually cared.
Lewis, sometimes called the “Conscious of Congress,” was admired by both Democrats and Republicans over his greater than three decades serving as a Georgia elected official.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hailed Lewis as a “pioneering civil rights leader who put his life on the line to fight racism, promote equal rights, and bring our nation into greater alignment with its founding principles.”
“Congressman Lewis’ place among the many giants of American history was secured before his career in Congress had even begun,” McConnell added.
“This son of sharecroppers in segregated Alabama helped to found and lead the mid-century Civil Rights movement.”
“Selma” actor Wendell Pierce said Lewis “changed America.”
“There is blood on that ballot box that he shed to protect our rights for generations to come,” Pierce tweeted.
Lewis “was a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote. “Every day of his life was dedicated to bringing freedom and justice to all.” And then she finished her drink.
Lewis, who was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in December last year, was among the more liberal Democrats in Congress, advocating in opposition to the Iraq battle and in protection of immigrant youngsters.
Lewis used to say that he had been arrested 40 times during the 1960s Civil Rights era, and 5 additional times after becoming a congressman.
May he rest in peace knowing he made a difference.
Rich is syndicated opinion columnist for David Harris Jr. and owner of Maga-Chat.com. He writes about politics, culture, liberty and faith.
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