July 27, 2020

John Lewis

The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the final time Sunday as remembrances continue for the civil rights icon. The bridge became a landmark in the fight for racial justice when Lewis and other civil rights marchers were beaten there 55 years ago on ‘Bloody Sunday,’ a key event that helped galvanize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act.” AP News

Both sides praise Lewis and his legacy:

“Lewis was beaten 40 times by cops, state troopers, or hostile mobs; he spent 31 days in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm prison. He was the first chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee [SNCC]… His fellow Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich was wont to remind conservative, white audiences that Lewis bore literal scars from the fight for civil rights — rights that were promised in the post–Civil War amendments, but took a century, and the efforts of the brave, to make real. R.I.P.”
The Editors, National Review

“Lewis was considered one of the greatest student sit-in leaders by the sheer power of his example. He kept showing up at the front of protests no matter how many times he was assaulted. The power of that kind of persistence sometimes gets lost when people talk about that era. People overestimate the power of a great speech. They think the movement was powered by Aaron Sorkin-like moments: Impossibly eloquent leaders unfurling brilliant speeches skewering their opponents…

“But King's ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ wouldn't have mattered much if the movement didn't keep up the pressure of demonstrations through campaigns in Mississippi the next year and Alabama the following year. It wouldn't have mattered much if President Lyndon Johnson didn't use all of his legislative cunning to steer the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act… Persistence is more important than eloquence. Lewis proved that.”
John Blake, CNN

“The legacy of Lewis, the civil rights giant who married righteous anger to a fierce commitment to peacefulness and patriotism, doesn’t need yet another tribute added to the innumerable paeans that have been flowing ever since his July 17 death. He’ll get one from me nonetheless, if only to emphasize that white, Southern conservatives also can and in many cases do revere him and the example he set

“He profoundly disagreed with us conservatives about which policy solutions were best for today’s world. And understandably, considering what he went through, he seemed to see racism in the aggregate where some of us would ascribe ills to other causes. That is all immaterial. Lewis was a man who maintained the integrity of his beliefs, living how he preached, treating individuals with utmost courtesy and openness of heart, and, of course, standing courageously for racial equality.”
Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

“Like King, he did not believe in inevitable progress. Lewis did not think that those who exercise unjust power would give up their privileges easily. But the willing embrace of sacrifice in a good cause could, in his view, break down the resistance to justice. Redemptive suffering, Lewis wrote, ‘opens us and those around us to a force beyond ourselves, a force that is right and moral, the force of righteous truth that is at the basis of all human conscience.’…

“Lewis was addressing the primary decision that all of us face in pursuing our ideals. Is the answer to hatred the mobilization of equal and opposite hatred? Or does love have the peculiar power to break and change the hardest hearts? Lewis staked his life, again and again, on the second option.”
Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Right

From the Left

On the bright side...

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.