The Honorable John Robert Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020)
The Reverend Dr. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian (July 30, 1924 – July 17, 2020)
Today, we celebrate two men of moral courage, ethical excellence, and relentless diligence in making Black Lives Matter in the policies and practices of this country and world: The Honorable John Lewis and The Reverend C.T. Vivian. Like many of us, C.T. Vivian and John Lewis participated in a movement — a protest — and it changed their lives forever. For C.T. Vivian and John Lewis, a jail cell was as familiar as a police officer’s baton. For their human rights work, cops arrested these activist ministers more times than they cared to count and suffered several brutal beatings at the hands of law enforcement.
These courageous human beings, now among our greatest ancestors, disrupted the status quo — commerce/business-as-usual — FOR YEARS before anyone took notice. They were attacked, despised, and criticized relentlessly by mainstream society and their own people, but they persisted. Only in their latter years did they receive the honor due to them, including being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Perseverance, tenacity, and determination (among other things) in this struggle link us to them. None of us are free until all of us are free, so we commit daily to the work of making Black Lives Matter in policy and practice knowing our struggle for justice is a part of the same continuum of human rights struggle led by those before us.
Thank you, John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, for being freedom fighters. Thank you for your service to our community, country, and world. We are winning.