By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
When we die, we hope that we’ll be remembered but there are certain people in this world who will never be forgotten, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis was one of them.
Lewis passed away last week Friday, July 17. He was 80 years old and had fought a six-month battle with cancer. At the time of his death, Lewis was serving his country as a congressman for the state of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District.
Lewis was known for many things. He played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement, including the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March, where he was beaten by police officers in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” During an interview on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Lewis said that during the 60s he had been arrested 40 times and an additional five time while in Congress.
On July 7, 2020 he tweeted a photo of his mug shot from 59 years ago.
“59 years ago, today I was released from Parchman Farm Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson, MS for using a so-called “white” restroom during the Freedom Rides of 1961,” he wrote.
Lewis was a part of the Freedom Riders and participated in lunch counter sit-ins, CNN reported. In 2015, he attended the San Diego Comic Con to promote his graphic novel series “March.” He wore a trench coat and a backpack, according to CNN. The outfit was a replica of the one he wore when he marched at Edmund Pettus Bridge. After his panel, he led a group of elementary school children in a march around the convention center.
As a congressman, he advocated for gun control, health care, COVID-19 resources and so much more.
He fought for the right to vote, for freedom, for equality and for basic human rights and he encouraged others to do the same.
In June 2018, he tweeted, “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
His phrase, “good trouble” has become a rallying cry among many.
Back in May, after the killing of George Floyd, Lewis made statement in support of the protestors.
“I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied far too long. Rioting, looting and burning is not the way. Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive,” Lewis said.
The Democratic National Convention Chair Tom Perez and Black Caucus Chair Virgie M. Rollins released a statement after his passing.
“John Lewis is everything we aspire to be as people, as leaders, and as a party. He taught us how to dream, how to work, how to sacrifice, and of course, how to make good trouble. He modeled a profound humility and a limitless ability to forgive in the face of even the most heinous acts. His zeal for justice was only matched by his capacity for compassion,” the statement read.
Perez and Rollins also praised Lewis for his bravery, especially the day he set foot on the Edmund Pettus Bridge where he was brutally beaten by police. He sacrificed himself, the statement read.
Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell R. Lucas also made a statement.
“Congressman John Lewis was born of sharecroppers in a small, rural town in Alabama, but his life’s impact is one of influencing some of the most important figures in the 20th century in America and the world,” the statement read.
Lucas continued, “Congressman Lewis leaves a legacy of honor, courage and sacrifice that will forever leave an indelible impression on the conscience of our nation. Dr. King famously said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ He is right and Congressman
Lewis lived each day of his life helping to bend that arc toward justice just a little bit more.”
Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, another Civil Rights Movement leader also passed away on Friday, July 17. Funeral arrangements for Congressman Lewis will be announced on Friday, July 24.
Although he is no longer physically present, Lewis’ legacy and work will continue as long as people continue to get in to “good trouble.”