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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Honor Where Honor's Due: RIP, Representative John Lewis

Once in a lifetime, a giant heart and mind stirs undeserved opposition. Lending his voice to the tired, disenfranchised mass collective oppression. Adding resonance and reason to their righteous and indignant cause.

Rep. John Lewis-D, GA

Congressman John Lewis, (1940-2020) devoted his life to righting ingrained societal wrongs, and lent every ounce of his humanity to upending unworthy, undignified, unjust experiences established and perpetuated by self-serving people.

Nothing new can be said about the revered Representative Lewis, his sacrifices, or his plight as one single American to change communal thought regarding racist ideology, treatment and customs in our country. Rather, all that can be offered in his passing is the understanding that one man's dreams bear witness to truth. His hope molds an example for all of us, that as a society we can be better. Do better. Build better. Create just realities for every human being, not simply the ones who look exactly like us. Talk like us. Sound like us. Want the same things as us on a daily basis.

I wasn't on the bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 when Mr. Lewis as a young, hopeful, determined man crossed it trying to incite change, raise awareness and bring equality to African-Americans. But, being any American, regardless of your skin tone, or the year you happened to have been born, affords the benevolence to want to do good. Support conflicting ideology that better represents values, goals and righteous vision moving forward.

Ignorance or foolishness fail to explain justified reasoning for perpetuating systemic racism in modern American society. Doing better, thinking better, being better simply means listening to every individual's plea, one voice at a time, as the opportunity arises.

I like this new term I recently heard, "anti-racist." I'm not sure if it's been floating around for a long period of time in circles I don't follow, but I totally get what people mean when they discuss making it a mainstay in our culture, mindset and language. "Anti-racist" shouldn't sound like a "movement," but, sadly, it feels like one. My sincere hope is that the term and its discussion only goes away when the United States of America serves every citizen with the same level of regard, respect and impunity.

I truly believe overcoming systemic racism and righting historical collective wrongs happens one day at a time, one choice at a time, one effort at a time. It's in this spirit that I share a few organizations who strive to support the plight Congressman Lewis addressed fifty-five years ago in the south. Equal rights for every person, respect for every human being simply because she or he exists, and the opportunity to figure out who you are on your own terms without feeling the need to justify your decision and receive wavering approval from random strangers.

* My Brother's Keeper Alliance, a program founded by the Obama Foundation, serves to bridge gaps that unnecessarily hinder or obstruct African-American males' disproportionate challenges, and prevent them from realizing their full potential.

* Future Ties is a non-profit organization that provides stability and primary, necessary resources to underserved families on the South Side of Chicago in Illinois, America.

* Girls Opportunity Alliance is a global initiative to educate females so they can affect change in their communities and altar negative, debilitating mindsets. Former First Lady Michelle Obama stands shoulder to shoulder with the organizers of this alliance and believes in their endeavor.

Consider making a donation to right ugly wrongs rampant in modern American ideology and living. And if you can't afford to donate a dollar, consider combating racism and honoring Representative John Lewis, his tribulations and his legacy, by contemplating an inspiring quote from the lovely, and esteemed Eddie Glaude, Jr., Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University:

Eddie Glaude, Jr. - Superman?

“We have to confront the ugliness of who we are — and who we have been — so that we can imagine ourselves otherwise.” 

One day at a time. One person at a time. One action at a time. That's how change happens.

Congressman Lewis knew all too well the ugliness that exists in America. He dove into its harsh, unrelenting and unforgivable circumstances with every step he took as he crossed that bridge in Selma, Alabama. He gave his life to upend wrongs he never should've endured. Don't let his passing devolve into one more forgotten tragedy. Do the right thing, America. Because you can. Each of us, one at a time, in our own way standing together makes a difference. Overcomes racist thinking, tendencies and behavior. The minority only prevails when they wear us down and convince us that our endeavor is not worthy.

Stand strong. Be hopeful. Better times are seeking us out as much as we need to find them.