ACLU-TN Statement on Passing of Congressman John Lewis

July 18, 2020

CONTACT: Claire Gardner, (615) 320-7142

Nashville — In response to the passing of Congressman John Lewis, American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg issued the following statement:

"For so many of us in Nashville, in Tennessee and across the South, John Lewis was a North Star – the one whose vision of justice and equality we aspire, the one whose example of conscience and commitment we follow, the one whose words and actions we look to in times of uncertainty. The magnitude of the loss of John Lewis cannot be understated: We have lost one of the great heroes of our time.

"Congressman Lewis blazed a path forward for generation after generation of brave young people whom he taught to believe that their voices deserve to – and must be – heard. He taught us that we are never too young to lead a march, guide a movement or transform a nation. Today, as young people across the United States organize and lead peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality, the chorus of their voices sing a refrain that John Lewis first sang. Even as he leaves us, his presence is and will continue to be felt at each demonstration here in the city where his legendary journey began, in the region that he changed forever and across the country that he faithfully guided for nearly half his life.

"Moreover, during his decades of service to the people of the 5th Congressional District of Georgia, he taught us that we must continue to find a way to use our platforms and our power to fight injustice in all its forms. From leading sit-ins on the floor of the House of Representatives in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting or, for the forty-fifth time in his life, being arrested for peacefully protesting for immigration reform, his lifelong commitment to disruptive, disciplined activism and allyship taught us that we are never too distinguished or celebrated, we have never earned too much acclaim or received too many honors, to graduate from our responsibility to cause 'good trouble' in the face of hatred and discrimination.

"Congressman Lewis' vision for change was one of inclusion, one in which we all had a role to play and a responsibility to be kind to and respectful of each other. He taught us that whether we are just getting started or if we have been fighting for years, we owe it to each other to not stop, to never grow weary, to 'keep pushing and pulling and find a way to get in the way.' Even as we grapple with moving forward in our movement without his leadership to guide us, we pledge to uphold the example that Congressman Lewis set for us to fight for our freedom with unfettered courage, ferocious discipline and an unwavering refusal to quit.

"May you rest in peace and in power, Mr. Lewis."