The following is a statement by the California Legislative Black Caucus on the passing of John Lewis and CT Vivian
Sacramento – Our nation was dealt a crushing blow with the passing of Civil Rights icons Representative John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian on Friday. Their lives intersected years ago studying theology at the American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee. Both men were vessels of the movement that believed their activism was an extension of their faith in God – which manifested in their support of nonviolent resistance to systemic racism.
The Rev. C.T. Vivian, an early civil rights organizer and field general for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fought and sacrificed his life for racial and social justice. Rev. Vivian’s devotion to racial and social justice work spanned over half a century. In the 1940s, he joined sit-ins as a part of integration efforts in Illinois and was one of the earlier Freedom Riders. In 1965, while registering Blacks to vote on the courthouse steps in Selma, an Officer assaulted Vivian.
Like Rev. Vivian, Rep. John Lewis was a humble and dedicated servant. Born the child of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and named its Chairman in 1963, making him one of the “Big Six.” Rep. Lewis was the youngest and last surviving member of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders who spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. On March 7, 1965, he led one of the most famous marches in American history, marching halfway across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to demand the voting rights Blacks had been denied.
Even after being bludgeoned by state troopers, Lewis believed in “redeeming the soul of America.” As a 17-term member of Congress, colleagues often described Rep. Lewis as the “conscience of Congress.” Lewis said, “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Rev. Vivian and Rep. Lewis’ lives were the embodiment of “good trouble.” The California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) mourns the loss of these great men who demonstrated radical faith devoting their lives to fight for voting rights, racial and social equality. Now, more than ever, we must diligently carry on their legacies so we may realize the promises of justice for all.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9