You can’t look anywhere today without seeing the tributes to John Lewis.
President Obama. Michelle Obama. Oprah. He touched so many lives. Changed so many, too.
We lost the great Georgia congressman John Lewis on Friday to pancreatic cancer. He was eighty.
I don’t think John Lewis was a tall man. He was, however, a towering figure. John Lewis was one of the founding members of the Civil Rights Movement. He was there with Dr. King. One of the last of the “greats.”
The New York Times says: “On the front lines of the bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, with blows to his body and a fractured skull to prove it, Mr. Lewis was a valiant stalwart of the civil rights movement and the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.”
If that’s all he did, that was more than enough.
But John Lewis was just getting started. He was elected to Congress in 1986. He was known as “the conscience of the Congress.”
By the time the George Floyd protests had taken hold in this country, John Lewis was already very ill. The cancer was at stage four. He watched these protests with new eyes. This time, it was different. What he had fought for his entire life was taking hold. Equality.
Michelle Obama has a wonderful Instagram post about John Lewis. For all the important work he did, she writes, “he managed to keep things simple and light.” She continues, “And even as he spent a lifetime marching, and sitting in, and getting arrested, his feet kept on dancing.”
The accompanying video to Michelle Obama’s post shows John Lewis dancing to Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy.” Watch it. It’s joyous. I’m sure he’s doing that today in heaven.
John Lewis never gave up. He inspired generations. He liked to tell college graduates not to be afraid to get into “good trouble.”
In 2018, he summed it up on Twitter:
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Ah. You have to love that. John Lewis. A life well lived. A life of “good trouble.”