The last words to us from Congressman John Lewis, who passed on July 17th:

“I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”

He wrote these words in an article he left for his staff to publish on the day of his funeral.

From an early age, John Lewis was committed to the goal of education for himself, and justice for his people.  Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis joined the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Lewis was a Freedom Rider, spoke at 1963’s March on Washington and led the demonstration that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” 

John Lewis is a modern day hero for those who are consistently underserved, unjustly treated and left on the sidelines.  For us at Verity, his loss is one felt in the deepest corners of our hearts.  We felt it was important to remember Congressman John Lewis and there is no better way than to share his last words to us.  The following is the article released to us by his staff at 11:00 AM on July 30th, 2020:

“While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

In this June 7, 2020 photo provided by the Executive Office of District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, Mayor Bowser and John Lewis look over a section of 16th Street that's been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington.  The White House is in the background.  (Khalid Naji-Allah/Executive Office of the Mayor via AP)

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

David Richardson holds a sign that reads I Am Man while visiting the John Lewis memorial under the John Lewis mural on Auburn Ave, Sunday, July 19, 2020. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

 Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring. 



 When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

John Lewis, Towering Figure of Civil Rights Era, Dies at 80 - The ...

Thank you John Lewis for your advocacy, your tireless work on behalf of the vulnerable and oppressed, and for being an example to all of us of what it looks like to get into “good trouble.”  We miss you already and will continue to fight to let freedom ring for all.

-Team Verity