America has come a long way since the launch of the civil rights movement; yet, there remains a good stretch of the Edmund Pettus Bridge that must be crossed.
The death Friday of civil rights icon John Lewis reminds Americans of the extreme sacrifices made by those who, while equal in the sight of God were deemed unworthy of basic civil rights in a nation that was founded on the premise that all its people were entitled to unalienable rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
And the Black Lives Matter movement of today reminds Americans that as much as John Lewis and others suffered in a government-sanctioned brutal attack March 7, 1965 – Bloody Sunday – that helped turn the tide on segregation and the suppression of civil rights, the march must continue.
Lewis was but 25 when he led voting rights efforts in Selma and, on that fateful day, led a march to tell segregationist Gov. George Wallace that Black men and women were free people and not subject to the unjust laws and treatment meted out by segregation.
He was 80 years old when he died on Friday. Think about that. For better than 55 years, John Lewis fought against social injustices in the streets, on the famous bridge to Montgomery and in the halls of Congress.
In all those years, he held to the principles he and other civil rights leaders – Martin Luther King Jr., Benjamin E. Mays, Hosea Williams among them – believed would bring about necessary change, that nonviolence and civil resistance were the foundation for dismantling segregation and Jim Crow laws.
The march for blind justice, equality and equity has not come to an end. Lewis certainly recognized that well before cancer claimed his long and distinguished life in the civil rights movement.
We would do well to honor his memory and legacy by continuing the march, and doing so as he would have wanted, through nonviolent means and, to use his own words, “good trouble.”
— Index-Journal, Greenville