Congressman John Lewis: Civil Rights Leader Models Peaceful Resistance

There’s good news if we look for it, in leaders who take the best of our history and stand up (or sit down to strike for) healthy change. Today, I want to remind us to

Here’s Congressman John Lewis leading a sit-down strike with fellow democrats, a gesture that turned out, as these peaceful gestures do, to be largely symbolic, as many of these protests are at first. However, this was no small event. Unprecedented, much covered in the media, it offered a clear lens to highlight Democrat’s convictions, and the Republican resistance to dialogue and compromise, bringing the issue of gun violence and the deadlock on shifting policy to the fore, loud and clear.636021959267254229-sit-in-2

According to Michael Nutter, CNN: “No, it was no stunt. Just as he defiantly marched across the Pettus Bridge 51 years ago to demand voting rights for black Americans, he and a cohort of colleagues have defiantly demanded the right to safety in their nation. They engaged in a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives for 24 hours and counting to push a vote that would prevent people who are on a terrorist watch list from buying guns. ”

Representative John Larson said of the protest, which included traditional strategies like singing “We Shall Overcome,” and holding photographs of the victims: “What we witnessed yesterday was a historic event,” Larson said shortly before it ended. “Yesterday was a sit-in. But, as much as a sit-in, it was a teach-in.”

Republican Paul Ryan called it a fundraising bid, but given the circumstances and the history of Republican publicity-hounding on the floor, (think of the ridiculous Dr. Seuss filibuster by Ted Cruz in September of 2013 (watch it here)), his point fell flat, reflecting his reluctance to talk about gun violence in any serious way. (Even an “I do not like it either, Sam-I-am” would have made him more human. At least the Democrats had dignity.
Want to see more? Watch coverage of the event on CNN and consider Rachel Maddow’s assessment of Congressman Lewis’ leadership, why he earns deference and respect in Washington. She also discusses March, the bestselling and award winning graphic novels about the Civil Rights Movement and his role in it, and his career, as well as the power of the sit-in.
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So we march on… thanks to leaders like John Lewis. We must never forget how our freedom was earned, and on whose shoulders we stand to keep fighting.

 

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