Late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon, penned an op-ed that was published posthumously, where he wrote, “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.”
The posthumous op-ed in The New York Times was published on Thursday the day of Lewis’s funeral, who died on July 17 at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. The piece was written shortly before his death.
In the op-ed titled “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation,” Lewis wrote:
“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.
That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.”
Lewis spoke about hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the radio who said that “we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice” and “it is not enough to say it will get better by and by.”
He went on to note that people can “redeem the soul of America” by getting into “good trouble, necessary trouble.” He said a key to that is voting. Lewis also said people must “study and learn the lessons of history.”
The former congressman urged people to “continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.”
“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.”
He concluded, “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.”
The news of Lewis’ death quickly garnered words of remembrance from many. The body of the civil rights icon was taken across the Edmund Pettus Bridge earlier this week, and then was lain in state in the U.S. Capitol. His funeral will be in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, where both former President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush are expected to attend.
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