Required Reading

By Recker McDowell —

The New York Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution today published an essay penned by U.S. Rep. John Lewis shortly before the civil rights icon died earlier this month.

Lewis’ farewell essay focuses on the current state of race, class, and democracy in America in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests. Lewis was a civil rights leader in the 1960s including organizing marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He was among those bloodied by a police beating during one of those marches.

Lewis’ essay stresses non-violence and urges a next generation of activists to take the helm of the promise of democracy and the promise of treating each other better.

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring,” Lewis writes.

Lewis, who was a 17-term congressman from Georgia, wrote about the historic crossroads America is at in 2020 and encouraged young people and others to write that history in a positive way.

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide,” he said.

Lewis’ essay can be found in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.

The full New York Times column can be seen here.