Cook: Tribute to John Lewis

This tribute to civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis was written and read by NC NOW Administrative Officer Nancy Cook at the 2020 NC NOW State Conference.

By: RJ Matson

As you all know, U.S. Representative John Lewis died this year.  We all miss him greatly.  In October 2014 I found myself in the presence of this gentle giant.  John Lewis was short in stature.  In fact, when I met him and shook his hand, we were close to eye-to-eye level.  However, despite his lack of height, John Lewis towered above us all in a most humble yet dignified way. 

I had the honor of attending a program at NC Central University in which he was the speaker.  I think he spoke for an hour or more before answering questions.  He spoke from his heart, his experience, and his wisdom.  Although I had followed and admired him all these years, I was still newly-mesmerized. 

Thank you, Representative Lewis, for all the hard work and sacrifice you put in day after day for all those years.  May you rest in peace for a job well done.  However, if you have a hankering to do more, just keep on getting into that good trouble.  We will be doing our part.

-Nancy Cook

Read more about Congressman John Lewis, and repairing the Voter Rights Act of 1965 at “Voting rights legislation named for John Lewis stalled in Congress,” 9/1/20, NC Policy Watch.

The article says, “Lewis was a leader in the 1965 march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery that brought national attention to the drive to enact the Voting Rights Act. State troopers beat Lewis and hundreds of other marchers after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge leading out of town. After Lewis died last month, the House renamed the legislation the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020.”

The Supreme Court in 2013 invalidated key aspects of the Voting Rights Act — allowing states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval — Democrats and voting rights advocates have been trying to persuade Congress to pass legislation to restore the protections for Black voters at the polls.


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