It is, honestly, hard to comprehend the magnitude of the life John Lewis lived.
The 65-foot mural in Sweet Auburn is nice, but it doesn’t come as close as the photo of Lewis and others on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, standing their ground as Alabama state troopers were about to unleash all hell in 1965.
How many of us who mourned Lewis’ passing would have cheered on those troopers 55 years ago? We ought to ask ourselves that as Lewis is laid to rest and politicians issue their plaudits.
The late congressman urged, “Make good trouble.” He wasn’t content to wait around for change. He demanded it.
And, as time went on, the nation came to see he was right about so many things.
Lewis did his most noteworthy and courageous work in his 20s — integrating lunch counters, taking part in Freedom Rides and marching for voting rights. He showed the kind of courage most of us could never muster.
I think often of a trip to the state archives in Montgomery about a decade ago, where I first saw that photo I mentioned earlier, of immovable protesters about to collide with the unstoppable force of state troopers. What came next was John Lewis nearly being beaten to death while onlookers cheered.
But more important was what came after: the codified right of all to vote. It was hard-fought, on the pavement of Highway 80.
The best way to assure Lewis’ legacy is to assure it’s not taken away.
David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Walton Tribune and is a former publisher of The Covington News. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @scoopclemons.