I believe that if you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it. – U.S. Rep. John Lewis
Leadership is found in the action to defeat that which would defeat you. You are made by the struggles you choose. – Rev. C.T. Vivian
Over this weekend we lost two of our nation’s giants, Representative John Lewis, and Rev. C.T. Vivian. Rev. Vivian, a gifted and eloquent Baptist minister, and Congressman Lewis, the political and moral conscience of Capitol Hill, were giants in the country’s nonviolent struggle for equal justice, equal rights, and peace and freedom.
Rep. Lewis dedicated his life to the project of making American democracy stronger, more open and equal for all. The son of sharecroppers, Rep. Lewis worked with Dr. Martin Luther King and helped organize the March on Washington where he was the youngest speaker (at 23), he led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, participated in the Freedom Rides and countless protests and sit-ins. He was viciously beaten numerous times, arrested 45 times and always came back stronger. He had a life-long, uncompromising commitment to peace and nonviolence even in the face of the hostility and violence he faced. He represented his Atlanta district in Congress for over 30 years, introducing (among other things) legislation to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. His words remain an inspiration for us – “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.” –A tweet from June 2018
Rev. Vivian was a close friend of Dr. King’s and was an important strategist for the civil rights movement. He organized and led countless protests, sit-ins and was also a Freedom Rider. He was a deeply thoughtful, spiritual, philosophical man, and a committed warrior for civil rights and equal justice. I had the great fortune to know Rev. Vivian in his later years, and he remained intellectually curious, engaged and inspiring throughout his life.
If you aren’t familiar with these great men, please read about their tremendous legacies, or watch the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble. As we mourn their passing, I hope each of us will take a moment to appreciate their leadership, courage and sacrifice, and the difference it made in our nation. We are in a time when many of the gains they fought for are at risk, and it will be up to us to continue the struggle to push this nation to live up to its promise, and to be willing to get into “good trouble.” May they rest in peace and power.