I am deeply saddened by the passing of John Lewis.
A friend and colleague, an inspirational teacher and leader. I was a student activist when we meet in 1965 and John was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). I was working on my student teaching project in the troubled poverty-stricken Central Ward of Newark New Jersey when he visited. He taught me “to get in good trouble.” A lesson I followed throughout my life.
We continued to find each other in common cause over the years. I greatly benefited from his friendship and support as I lobbied for the voting rights act and other civil rights legislation in Washington, DC with the YMCA, AFSCME, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. When I founded the Youth Franchise Coalition to lobby for the passage of the 18-year-old vote, John then the director of the Voter Education Project helped me secure the trust and support of skeptical young black leaders to enlist them in our campaign.
In these troubled times, I often have recalled his message: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”