John Lewis visited Black Life Square in Washington
A day before his hospitalization, Congressman John Lewis visited Black Life Square in Washington, DC, to witness the latest leg of the civil rights movement at work.
“I must have seen and felt for myself that after so many years of silent witnessing, the truth is still relevant,” he wrote in an article published Thursday in the ny Times, his funeral at the Abenizer Baptist Church. In Atlanta.
The civil rights icon and “congressional conscious” died of pancreatic cancer on July 17 after more than 30 years in the House. He was the last surviving speaker of Washington’s career and freedom march in 1963.
Pinell Joseph, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin, says John Lewis was an ideal example of the liquidity between the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the Black Life Movement.
When Black Lives Matter first launched in 2013, many criticized the movement for not conforming to the values of Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights Movement – but Joseph says it does not.
“There is a river of activity that flows from the civil rights movement in the 1960s and from John Lewis to the BLM movement in 2020,” he says. “It is surprising that Congressman Lewis sees the arc of this river of activity.”
John Lewis showed his integrity and sincerity even when people disagreed with him. As chairman of the Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for Students from 1963 to 1966, he drew a line between “those who wanted political revolution and those who were more interested in gradual change through political legislation and legal decisions, ”says Joseph.
Although he was 80 when he died and pointed out the effectiveness of nonviolent civil disobedience, John Lewis embraced the issue of black life and admitted that BLM activists do community work well- beloved King, said Joseph.
“Although he was someone I consider that strict peaceful pragmatism, he understood the fears of revolutionaries,” Joseph says. “And he was ready to embrace these revolutionaries even if he didn’t agree with their tactics.”
President Trump does not attend Lewis’s funeral. Former presidents in attendance include Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who will host the memorial.
Joseph says Trump’s disappointing decision not to attend a memorial service for Lewis exposes political divisions in the United States centered on race.
In part through Lewis’s activity, a consensus was reached among presidents from Johnson to Obama that “racial justice was essential to American democracy,” Joseph says. In 2017, he said, the consensus was shattered.
He says part of the discussions and protests taking place in the central United States are about building a new definition of democracy, freedom and dignity and what it means to be American. Lewis pushed for the fight for an egalitarian society with the scars on his body from being beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965 and as a Cavalier’s Guard in May 1961.
Joseph said, “[Louis] is a symbol of what we call a beloved community.” “And I think this opinion he wrote shows that he believes that 2020 has given us all this opportunity for generations to change to end systematic racism, defeat white supremacy and ultimately reach our country.”
reported by WBUR