This archived article was written by: Kevin van der Spek
John Lewis is a Congressman that looked death in the face and kept walking. His protests alongside Martin Luther King created and moved non-violent protest for voting rights of African-Americans.
Lewis was born in Alabama with little books in his home, according to Biography. com. The challenges that come with living in the racist south did not stop him from joining and leading different protests.
Lewis was a Freedom Rider. According to History.com, this group was active in 1961 making bus trips all over the American South. They challenged segregation on buses and other public services like restrooms and lunch counters. Lewis and the other Freedom Riders were met with violence from police and white protesters.
Aggression against peaceful protests became life threating during the march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery. During an interview with David Letterman, Lewis explains when he saw the state troopers from Edmund Pettus Bridge, he thought his life was over. His thoughts were keeping to his principles of non-violence. The protests were met at the other side, and Lewis was hit on the head with a nightstick. After this, Lewis got up and walked across the bridge back to the church.
There he said, “I don’t understand it. How President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam, and cannot send troops to Selma, Alabama, to protect people whose only desire is to register to vote.” At the second march, there were around 20,000 people.
Nonviolent protests were not the extent of his work. As mentioned above, Lewis is a member of the House of Representatives. He has fought for Healthcare reform education reforms. Also, in light of mass shootings in 2016, Lewis called for gun reforms, stating that reform was long overdue.
Lewis’s Twitter is what you would expect it to be, a continuous stream of reminders to advocate for people who are not able to. On January 15th, Martin Luther King day, he tweeted many quotes from King himself. One tweet being, “Today, Dr. King’s legacy is a guiding light. As we push and pull for a more just and more equal society, Dr. King campaigns against war, against poverty, against racism show us that love is the universal value of a society at peace with itself good trouble.”
Lewis has been using non-violent protests, alongside this work in Congress, to promote racial discourse.