Americans have been yanked into a long-held reality with the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police officers, which is that justice too often is applied unevenly in this country.
So now, here we are. The nation is mourning a giant of a great cause to bring equal justice, equal rights to all citizens. John Lewis has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years of age.
U.S. Rep. Lewis comes from an era of great struggle. It was a violent time and Lewis, tragically, was the victim of that violence. Police in Alabama beat Lewis to a pulp as he marched along with other black citizens for equal rights. He recovered. Lewis continued to stand tall alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young and other activists of the time seeking justice and liberty for all Americans … regardless of their racial makeup.
“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise,” former President Barack Obama wrote in his statement. “And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”
Lewis took his struggle to the floor of the U.S. House, where he served with honor representing the people of Georgia as a Democratic congressman.
Andrew Young also rose to prominence as well, becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta. He spoke today of his friend’s death and the belief that despite the deaths of so many great civil rights icons, their work and their legacies live on.
The live through their spirit that remains among us, Young said.
So it will be as the nation gets past its time of mourning the death of a real-life, authentic American hero.
Rest in peace, Rep. Lewis. You have done well, but the hard work will continue in your memory.