Weekly Democratic Address
April 6, 2018
Hello. I am John Lewis, and I represent Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District.
On April 4, our nation and the world paused to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Growing up as a boy in rural Alabama, I remember when Rosa Parks and Dr. King came together in December 1955 to launch the bus boycott in Montgomery.
As a young man, I wrote Dr. King a letter, and his response changed my life forever. Dr. King was my inspiration, my leader, and my mentor. He was my friend.
Back then, segregation and racial discrimination were all around us – in the voting booth, in the courtroom, and in the classroom.
In many parts of our country, people of different races could not sit together on a bus, sleep in the same hotel, or drink water from the same fountain.
Dr. King taught us the philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence and sparked a nonviolent revolution – a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas, a revolution of action.
On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the world learned of his dream of building the beloved community.
Over the years, Dr. King convinced President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, and President Johnson to understand that civil rights was a moral issue.
He used his moral leadership to fight for equal justice for sanitation workers, for people of color, for those who had been left out and left behind.
In particular, I will never forget when Dr. King spoke in Berlin against the danger of building walls. He reminded the global family – the global community – that God’s children were on both sides of the wall.
In the past 50 years, as a nation and as a people, we have made progress. But there are new forces trying to take us back, trying to turn back the clock, trying to take us to a darker time.
Times like these can seem overwhelming, but I ask you to recommit yourself to the way of love, the way of peace, and the way of nonviolence.
I ask you to look in your heart and to trust that justice will prevail.
If Dr. King were with us today, he would continue to push our country to respect the dignity and the worth of every human being – no matter where they are born, no matter their race, age, religion, or gender identity.
He would argue that we have a right to know what is in the food we eat, the water we drink, and in the air we breathe.
He would preach that we have a mission, an obligation, and a mandate to leave this country and this little planet a little cleaner, a little greener, and a little more peaceful for generations yet unborn.
Most importantly, if Dr. King were alive, he would ask each of us to speak up, to speak out in the face of injustice, and he would demand that each and every one of us do our part and do it well.