America Loses a Civil Rights Legend and Its Last Living Link to King’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech’

John Lewis was the greatest American I ever got to meet and talk to in person. He was often at the Newseum when I led tours there. He was courageous and kind, both at a national level and a personal level.

When he found out our grandchildren were then living in the Atlanta suburb of Dunwoody, he offered to take them down to the House floor and show them how voting there worked. It was an offer from the heart, since neither Judy nor I or Michael nor Shannon could vote for him.

All of us who care about the America John Lewis believed in and was jailed and beaten for, need to rededicate ourselves to continuing his battle to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.

What a great role model he was and what a great motto he left us — find a way to make a way out of no way.

He had a wonderful sense of humor, too. This is a paraphrase of a story I heard him say several times:“When I was young, I wanted to be a preacher. So I would get my brothers and sisters to round up all our chickens and I would get up on a big box and preach to them,You know what — those chickens never listened to a word I said. I wasn’t happy then, but it did prepare me for today — those Republicans in Congress don’t listen to a thing I say either”.

Goodbye, Congressman Lewis. You were the youngest speaker (at age 23) at the 1965 March on Washington and the last living on-stage-that-day link to Dr. Martin Luther Jr. and his resoundingly notable “I Have a Dream” speech.

You will be missed but you inspired so many that you will never be forgotten and your work will never be forsaken.