The late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis revealed Thursday that he had been “inspired” in his final days by nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality. In an op-ed authored shortly before his death and published on the day of his funeral by The New York Times, the Georgia Democrat reflected upon his own calling to join the civil rights movement following the lynching of Emmett Till.
In his posthumous op-ed, Lewis looked to pass the torch of social justice activism on to a new generation of Americans. Lewis explained that the ongoing anti-racism protests compelled him to visit the newly established Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House last month, even though he was admitted to the hospital the next day. “I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on,” he wrote.
Here’s the opening:
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society.
Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.
Read the full essay.