Approximately nine months ago (October 24-26, 2019), I had the privilege of attending the Fulbright 42nd Annual Conference and Advocacy Day. This conference happened to coincide with Congressman’s Elijah Cummings memorial at the capitol.
As our multicultural cohort was enroute to render our respects to Representative Cummings, we encountered Congressman John Lewis. For whatever reason, he stopped and began a conversation with one of our colleagues which resulted in the rest of us joining in the discussion which culminated with this group selfie.
As you can see, no one would have imagined that he was battling cancer and would be deceased nine months later. Rep Lewis epitomized what we should all strive to represent: He was a man of passion – not based on what he read or felt, but because of his experiences. He represented what our society is currently struggling to achieve – the ability to highlight a problem but work to provide solutions through legislation and healthy debates versus violence.
His efforts were also essential as the foundation for so many who were previously deprived of the right to vote. The picture to the right highlights how Representative Lewis’ participation on the Bloody Sunday, March on the Edmund Pettus Bridge (March 7, 1965) paved the way for people to vote, people to have equal opportunities of access, and people to achieve their personal/professional desires if they are willing to work for it. It is unfortunate that historically, less than 40% of eligible Americans currently participate in our voting process.
Even though Representative Lewis continued his strong position to change policy that adversely impacted the minority community, his passion extended to other underrepresented groups and he consistently worked with members of opposing parties to develop mutually beneficial solutions to serve all Americans.
Representative Lewis, your legacy will live on forever and I hope that we extend your legacy by promoting dialogue, policy, and an unwavering commitment to preserve the sanctity of the greatest nation on this earth – The United States. God Bless you in your journey home and God Bless the USA.
Janice M. Gravely, PhD