The Bridge: In Praise of Mr. John Lewis and Mr. C. T. Vivian!

The Bridge: In Praise of Mr. John Lewis and Mr. C. T. Vivian!

Sometimes, Black immigrants in the United States take for granted the opportunities, freedoms, and rights they have inherited just because of the resistance and courage of a few great men like Civil Rights leaders John Lewis and C. T. Vivian. We honor both of you today.

As a black man who was not born in the United States, if I can continue to breathe in this country, I owe it to brave African American men and women who have literally sacrificed their lives, shed their blood, and endured humiliation and dehumanization to make it possible for me and my children, and other blacks living in this country.

Thank you, Mr. Lewis!
Thank you, Mr. Vivian!

Your labor is not and will not be in vain. We will continue the struggle for human rights and life, justice and peace, human flourishing, and to create another and better country for all in these United States of America.

***

The words of our departed ancest

“Love is the willingness to sacrifice, to be beaten, to go to jail, to be killed for the betterment of society rather than live out your life in silence. The Civil Rights Movement, above all, was a work of love. Yet, even fifty years later, it is rare to find anyone who would use the word love to describe what we did. We were consciously aware that unity was our ultimate goal, and if that was truly our aim, we had come to grips with the fact that after all the warring was done, reconciliation, love, and forgiveness would have the final say. Our protests were our way of standing in the truth to reach our errant brothers and sisters and encourage them to see the abiding truth that was there before the foundation of the world and would last beyond our existence—we are one people, one family. I like to use the analogy of one house to describe our kinship to all humankind. We all live together in the same house—in different rooms, perhaps, but under the same roof and within the same walls. If one section of our house begins to rot—a basement, a back room, a closed-off closet—the entire structure is in danger of collapsing. It is only by recognizing our unity that we can prevail.”

John Lewis, Across That Bridge (pp. 179-180)

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