John Lewis, who became a civil rights icon and a longtime Georgia congressman, died July 17 at the age of 80. As I watched the many tributes this last week, I was amazed that Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama and only moved to Georgia later in his career. I remember Lewis because I joined my late husband Tim Robinson, who was born and raised near Birmingham, Al in crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 30th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 1995. That day commemorated the original March when Lewis, the one-time “Freedom Rider” was among civil rights demonstrators, including Martin Luther King, attacked and beaten by state troopers in 1965. Tim had covered “Bloody Sunday” as a teenage reporter for the Birmingham Post Herald and photographed the beatings. Lewis was at the commemoration.
More recently, I became aware that Lewis was a respected Georgia congressman in Washington DC and watched a documentary completed shortly before his death. I found it heroic that Lewis pledged to honor his friend Martin Luther King’s devotion to non-violence – resulting in many beatings and concussions, but no regrets. In fact, he continued to be known as “The Boy from Troy” the nickname King gave Lewis at their first meeting in 1958 in Montgomery. The celebrations for Lewis have continued for several days, and will end with his funeral on Thursday, July 30th. I will always remember the hymn “Amazing Grace” echoing in the U.S Congress Building at a special televised memorial ceremony this week. It summed up his grace and courage.
For more on the life of John Lewis, you can read a tribute in the Detroit Free Press – https://www.freep.com/story/news/nation/2020/07/26/civil-rights-icon-john-lewis-remembered-his-passion-leadership/5477561002/