Activists within the Movement for Black Lives are remembering the legacy left behind by Rep. John Lewis. Many credit Lewis' life's work as part of the inspiration for their own commitment to continuing the fight against racial injustice. (July 18)
JOHN LEWIS: --a distance. We made progress, but we're not there yet.
PHILLIP AGNEW: I didn't think that he would know who I was, you know. I absolutely knew he was.
I was actually on a panel that his office invited me to, so he was the host of it. And I remember him coming and speaking to me and saying how proud he was looking at the things that we had done in Florida. I was overjoyed to meet him.
I think anybody that has ever been in his presence feels the full weight of history on his shoulders. It wasn't just that he had his head burst open on that bridge, but he continued to fight, continued to organize, and really was at the mercy of the movement for many, many decades.
BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: To choose to actually take the hits, suck in the tear gas, swallow the pepper spray, run from the rubber bullets, face the [? MRAPs, ?] and be locked arm-in-arm with thousands of other people who are willing to do the same-- that is a sacrifice that saves American democracy, every single time. And it was people like John Lewis who showed me why I had to do that and how to keep fighting even though that pain and that trauma is deeply real.
[SHOUTING IN CROWD]
BARACK OBAMA: Congressman Lewis, Reverend CT Vivian--
BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: I'm sitting in a White House run by the first black president, next to the first black president, and across from us is CT Vivian. And on the other side of the president is John Lewis. And I just kept thinking to myself, do not let John Lewis down, do not let John Lewis down, do not let John Lewis down.
JOHN LEWIS: Where we were beaten, arrested, and went to jail, we didn't become bitter or hostile. We kept the faith.
BRITTANY PACKNETT CUNNINGHAM: What I felt like he was really saying to us was, it's OK to not have all the answers. It's OK to feel like giving up sometimes. It's OK to sometimes feel like all of this is bigger than you, because it is. And that's why you have to keep going.
I have so much gratitude for the seed that he has cared to plant in so many of us from afar and up close. He was giving us permission to fight and to struggle and to try and to fail and to try again but always to remember that the fight is worth it. And that's why we choose it every time.