“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,” he said, of the recent rallies in support of racial equality. “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.”
“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,” wrote the Civil Rights Movement giant in his essay, published in the New York Times on July 30, the day of his funeral.
“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.”
“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,” Lewis continued.
“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.”
A close friend of Martin Luther King , Jr., he was the last survivor who stood on Washington For Jobs and Liberty during March 1963. Lewis’ success in signing it was the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That same year, while marching with King, he had his skull broken, leading more than 600 nonviolent protesters across Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge in a rally for those rights.
A re-elected Georgian statesman to the House of Representatives every two years since 1987, Lewis died at the age of 80 on 17 July.