John Lewis declares ‘now it is your turn’ in posthumous NYT op-ed on justice

The New York Times releases an op-ed penned by John Lewis two days before his death.

Loading the player...

The late congressman John Lewis shared how recent uprisings against racism and police brutality inspired him in a posthumous op-ed.

READ MORE: President Obama to deliver the eulogy at John Lewis funeral service: report

Published by The New York Times on Thursday, the essay reflects on his own desire to join civil rights movements after the death of Emmett Till. Only written days before his death, the NYT released the work on the day of his funeral.

John Lewis thegrio.com
DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 04: Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) listens to Stevie Wonder speak at the funeral of former U.S. Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) at Greater Grace Temple on November 4, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Conyers, who died on October 27 at the age of 90, was the longest serving African American member of the U.S House of Representatives in U.S. history, and the third longest serving House member, having held the office for more than 50 years. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

“Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me,” he writes.

He continues, “like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence.”

Lewis also shares how his last public appearance at  Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House was intentional.

Rep. John Lewis thegrio.com
Respected Rep. John Lewis has passed away. Lewis announced in December 2019 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. (Photo from 2013 by Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images for U.S. Postal Service)

“While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society,” he writes.

“That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.”

READ MORE: John Lewis: A call to uphold his legacy of ‘good trouble’

Foreshadowing his death, the civil rights leader encourages the current generation of activists and leaders.

John Lewis thegrio.com
Congressman John Lewis (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring,” writes the life-long activist.

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

Lewis died July 17 after a battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. His funeral service will be held Thursday in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same place of King’s funeral in 1968.

As theGrio reported former President Barack Obama was tapped to deliver the eulogy. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush paid their respects at the funeral. President Donald Trump was not in attendance.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

Loading the player...

Share