If anyone deserves to rest in peace and rise in glory, it is our Congressman, Representative John Robert Lewis.
He fought the good fight, he kept the faith, he got into “good trouble,” he served his Lord and his country well.
A few days before he died last week, I wrote on Facebook that in every encounter Wade and I had with him, he made us feel as if he were there to see us! And he really saw us, engaged with us, wanted to know “how are you doin’?” He didn’t look around to see if there was someone else to greet. He was solidly there, pleased to listen.
I put this on Facebook because we had just been moved watching the documentary, John Lewis: Good Trouble.
Wade was so charmed by him that he on two occasions invited him to our home for dinner. And Congressman Lewis said yes, he’d love to come. I felt like the centurion who said to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.” Lewis was a Civil Rights Movement icon and I did not feel worthy. Our place is small and modest. What would we serve? Whom invite? Should it be a campaign fundraiser? We did not pursue it because of my reservations.
I am grateful Rep. Lewis lived to see the latest incarnation and proliferation of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Lives Matter. He seemed to share my view that all movements are led by subsequent generations. Younger people see things and know things and feel things that us older folk may miss.
Please permit an aside. I don’t like the facile categories and generalizations applied to different generations. I think they are a weak media invention and new occasions for prejudice. This week a columnist described being called to task as a “Baby Boomer” who had dreamed of a new and better world in the 60’s, “Okay, Boomer, why didn’t you finish the job?”
The truth of the matter is that all the activists I knew and worked with in the 60’s and 70’s and beyond have never stopped working for a better world. Many problems cannot be “fixed” in a single generation.
Ironically, the LGBTQIA Movement of which I have been part nearly DID “finish our job,” accomplishing more goals than I ever thought possible in my lifetime. That’s why we now have the luxury, opportunity, and responsibility of “intersectionality,” better understanding and expressing and addressing the relationship of all peace and justice and equality issues.
I was deeply touched by an outstanding LGBTQIA activist writing that my first book helped him realize that “I was possible.” That is why I am so beholden to the Civil Rights Movement: it helped me realize that “I was possible.”
I doubt I have ever had the courage of John Lewis, willing to non-violently endure a fractured skull on the Edmund Pettus bridge. But I am glad I got to touch, as it were, “the hem of his garment.”
Representative Lewis loved this early mug shot,
displayed at a restaurant in our neighborhood.
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