RIP John Lewis: Congressman And Civil Rights Icon Leaves A Lesson For Today’s Troubled Times

Written by Wes Walker on July 19, 2020

If you turned on the news yesterday, you’d see reports of MostlyPeacefulProtesters™ ripping up one city or another. Meanwhile, flags were at half-mast to mark the passing of someone with a very different approach to protest.

Rep John Lewis was one of those rare people in our history who can truly say he was there when history was being made.

However much one might disagree on the Democrat party’s vision of tomorrow or their portrayal of events today, Rep Lewis was right in the thick of seeing a massive cultural shift sweep America.

And you will notice that at no point did he throw hands, beat cops, or chuck a single Molotov Cocktail to accomplish that worthy goal.

Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, had served in the House of Representatives since 1987, following decades of work as an organizer and activist — serving as a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, organizing the March on Washington in lockstep with Martin Luther King Jr. and serving in the Atlanta City Council. —MSN

What did ‘taking up the fight’ look like to him?

On Feb. 27, 1960, nearly 100 young African Americans, along with a few white supporters, were arrested and jailed.

Future U.S. Rep. John Lewis was among them. It marked the first of his many arrests to come.

On that historic day 60 years ago, tensions escalated between crowds of white instigators and the composed young Black men and women who wanted integration and equality.

The students came from local universities: Fisk, Tennessee A&I and the American Baptist Theological Seminary. They entered Woolworth’s, Walgreens and McLellan’s.

Thousands of people — white and Black — crammed the area downtown, and policemen armed with billy clubs lined the streets.

…The fight was just beginning.

“Nashville prepared me,” Lewis told The Tennessean in 2013. “If it hadn’t been for Nashville, I would not be the person I am now.

“We grew up sitting down or sitting in. And we grew up very fast.” — Indystar

Unlike the masked thugs burning down the life’s work of strangers, he wanted reformation, not revolution. He was prepared to pay a price while taking the moral high ground.

And pay a price he did.

One minute and five seconds after a two-minute warning was announced, the troops advanced, wielding clubs, bullwhips, and tear gas. John Lewis, who suffered a skull fracture, was one of fifty-eight people treated for injuries at the local hospital. The day is remembered in history as “Bloody Sunday.” Less than one week later, Lewis recounted the attack on the marchers during a Federal hearing at which the demonstrators sought protection for a full-scale march to Montgomery. A transcript of his testimony is presented in the following pages.

…Excerpt:

Lewis: I was hit on my head right here.
Hall: What were you hit with?
Lewis: I was hit with a billy club, and I saw the State Trooper that hit me.
Hall: How many times were you hit?
Lewis: I was hit twice, once when I was lying down and was attempting to get up.
Hall: Do we understand you to say were hit . . . and then attempted to get up
and were hit—and was hit again.
Lewis: Right.

—From John Lewis’s testimony —Government Archives

Having history unfold on the news against a backdrop of the televised Nuremberg Trials gave a sense of moral weight to the actions witnessed in the Civil Rights movement.

You get a sense of what sort of man Lewis had been, as well as his place in history by how his death is marked not just by his friends, but by those with whom he crossed political swords.

He had precious little praise to offer the current president, having very publicly insulted him (rightly or wrongly) on more than one occasion. He also made the following comments during Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, and Nadler’s groundless and entirely partisan impeachment attempt:

“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something. Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’ For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”
— December 2019 remarks in the House on impeachment of President Donald Trump

In other cases, such a statement might have been the final straw, forever ending any possible positive comments he would make upon the speaker of those words.

We have seen how past conflicts can spill over beyond the political and into the personal, as we did with some of the public comments about another of Trump’s rivals, John McCain.

Even so, despite Trump’s infamous reputation for being ‘a counterpuncher’, he kept to the high road with the passing of John Lewis.

Flags at the White House and U.S. Capitol were lowered to half staff Saturday morning to honor the late Rep. John Lewis, who died Friday night at the age of 80 and President Trump ordered all American flags to be lowered nationwide for the rest of the day.

The tribute to signify a nation in mourning is the first of what is expected to be many ways the civil rights leader and longtime congressman from Georiga will be eulogized. –FoxNews

It is sad to see a voice for peaceful disagreement lost to a country that so badly needs to hear that message today.

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If you thought Lewis and MLK had a ‘radical’ message of peace, just wait until you meet the guy they learned it from!

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