John Lewis once said, “You cannot be afraid to speak up and speak out for what you believe. You have to have courage, raw courage.” He also encouraged us to “Get into good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” John Lewis’ journey through this world started right here in the middle of the Second Congressional District. His life and legacy were well honored this past week with services in Alabama, Washington, D.C., and Georgia.
I had the privilege to attend John’s celebration of life service in Atlanta and remember the remarkable life of not only a colleague but a very dear friend. It is no secret that he was a true American patriot who dedicated his very existence to the pursuit of equal justice for all. John has been an inspiration to countless individuals throughout the entirety of his meaningful life.
As many Alabamians know, John has a deep connection to the state of Alabama. He was born in Troy in 1940 and made a commitment as a child to become a part of a movement of great importance to him – the civil rights movement. He went off to college and dedicated much of his time to non-violent protests and the organization of several activists groups. He was a keynote speaker at the 1963 March on Washington and marched alongside his childhood inspiration, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma on Bloody Sunday.
John Lewis’ long list of accomplishments throughout his life speaks volumes about the substantial footprint he left on the fight for equality. In Former President George W. Bush’s remarks earlier this week, he said, “The story that began in Troy isn’t ending here, nor is the work. John Lewis lives forever in his Father’s house, and he will live forever in the hearts of Americans, who act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God.”
Before he left us, John spoke to us one more time in a piece to be published the day of his funeral. He stated, “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…”
John’s final words leave us with a call and duty, to always stand up for what is right. His legacy will be everlasting, inspiring many for generations to come. Thank you, John Lewis, for your selfless courage and fervent passion. This world is a much better place because you were in it, and we will do our best to follow in your footsteps.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.