“We do not want our freedom gradually; we want our freedom now!” – Rep. John Lewis
Today is a sad day as the world mourns the death of a civil rights legend who not only changed the world for Black people but forged a movement of creating “good trouble” which equates to disrupting the status quo and creating a new world order. John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama in 1940 the third of ten children whose parents were sharecroppers. As a young child he was not aware of the segregation of the South. It was not until he was 11yrs old and an uncle took him on a trip to Buffalo, New York that the young Lewis was able to connect and see that segregation.
The radio in is home played the speeches of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Lewis learned about the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 which lasted 383 days. Lewis would later meet the young Black woman who refused to give up her seat, the Mrs. Rosa Parks at the age of 17 and MLK Jr. at the age of 18. This was the start of a long life steeped in creating change and being a leader in the Civil Rights Movement of this country.
Rep. Lewis would go on to lead multiple sit-ins, boycotts, protests, marches and legislative victories. He was beaten by a white mob who had been given orders by the Governor of Alabama to stop Lewis and his fellow activists from fulfilling their goal for the start of the Selma to Montgomery March for freedom. This was not the first time Lewis was beaten for speaking his mind and for demanding his fundamental rights as a man in the United States.
It was also not the last movement that Lewis would lead. Rep. Lewis was not only a statesman, he was a calm, loving and beautiful soul who embraced all who needed him as well as his enemies. He never made people feel guilty, he made them aware.
He became a Congressman in 1987 but never left the movement and never stopped his activism for civil rights. Rep. Lewis was a staunch supporter of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and he continued to be an advocate and leader in protecting the law as it was under attack. In 2018 when the House of Representatives voted to weaken the ADA, Lewis made an amazing speech to protect the law and implored all of Congress to do the same. He was “the conscience of Congress” in that moment as he had been every year he was in office.
“You must never give up! You must be bold; You must be brave; You must be courageous! And find a way to get in the way!” – Rep. John Lewis
There are not many men in this world who had the political savvy, the courage, the knowledge and the character to stand in the middle of the Washington, DC”s #BlackLivesMatter plaza but John Lewis did this just a few weeks ago. His solidarity for all civil and human rights movements were not things he just talked about, but he lived the words everyday. Lewis’ office was always opened to all and he spoke with many groups about their causes and their advocacy. He was a legislative genius leading the passage of multiple laws that have created better lives for all. Rep. Lewis was also one of the 55 Congressional Black Caucus members of Congress to be a sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019 (DIA). His support for the freedom of people with disabilities to live an Independent life in accordance with the ADA and the Olmstead v. Lois Curtis case had roots in the fact he and Ms. Curtis were both from Georgia and his complete solidarity to the movement for the civil rights of all.
CDR joins the world in mourning the death of this great man. We are forever in his debt. We send our deepest condolences to his family and community for this huge loss. We are completely aware that we have a large responsibility to continue his work in civil rights. Rep. John Lewis’ legacy will prevail.
“If not us than who? If not now, then when!” – Rep. John Lewis