The Legacy of John Lewis: Learn the Foundational Tenets of True Activism From a Civil Rights Icon
John Lewis‘ life and work in the civil rights movement are a beacon of hope for those who want to create a more just society.
His commitment to nonviolence despite the vicious assaults on him, his fearlessness in facing down Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus bridge and his ability to inspire even a former Klansman to apologize to him years later all point to lessons we can take away from this momentous time in our history.
Across That Bridge provides an intimate, heartfelt look at John Lewis’s vision of freedom and how he was able to stay true to it even under immense pressure.
Through powerful stories and examples from his lifelong activism, readers gain insight into John Lewis’s guiding principles that lay the groundwork for true activism.
This vital message is especially needed in today’s world filled with division and polarization.
The Message of Hope That We Can Improve Our Society: The Legacy of John Lewis
The civil rights movement was a powerful example of the possibility of change when committed people come together.
On March 7, 1965, John Lewis led a group of peaceful protestors onto Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama and faced what had to have been one of the darkest days of the civil rights movement – hundreds of Alabama state troopers, armed with firearms, tear gas and nightsticks.
Dozens were beaten, injured or hospitalized – including Lewis himself who suffered a fractured skull and bore scars for life.
But despite these undignified times, their determination and willingness to be part of something bigger made a difference: fast forward to today and we’ve seen a huge shift in the racial divide in America.
This powerful example shows us that nothing can stop those who are determined to make a real difference.
Lewis later became an US representative remembering that even during Obama’s time as president there was still great hostility – but people are starting to wake up again and remember that we’re all equal members of one family.
The civil rights movement serves as an important reminder that dark moments can lead to much better things ahead – as long as we stay determined.
The Power of Faith: How Conviction Enabled Activists like John Lewis and Rosa Parks to Overcome Oppression
John Lewis believed deeply in the power of faith.
He knew that having faith in your convictions was one of the most important qualities an activist could possess.
This was something he had seen firsthand throughout his involvement in the civil rights movement, withstanding physical attacks and arrests without flinching.
Lewis learned during his upbringing that the inequality he saw was wrong, and that discrimination was a false notion based on faulty logic.
He saw this same determination in Rosa Parks, as she refused to surrender her seat on a bus to a white person and dedicated herself to learning activism theory around racial integration.
Both demonstrated the idea that they had a power no one or nothing could take away: their ability to have faith in their convictions and stay true to what they believed.
The message here is that faith can render opponents powerless.
No matter how much violence or hatred is thrown their way, activists like Lewis and Parks found strength in their commitment to justice – thus making it impossible for their opponents to weaken them through fear tactics and threats.
Lewis truly embodied this understanding when standing at the Edmund Pettus Bridge ready for battle – being unwavering despite not knowing what would happen next or whether he’d make it out alive
The Power of Patience: How Perseverance in Selma Led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965
The struggle for voting rights in Selma is a powerful example of the power of patience.
For decades prior to the civil rights movement, African Americans in Selma were systematically blocked from exercising their right to vote by measures such as a so-called grandfather clause, literacy tests and closing the registrar’s office.
The only way they could defy these obstacles was through peaceful, sustained activism.
Activists peacefully waited in line at the Selma registrar’s office for two years despite being beaten, verbally abused, and taken to jail.
Their patient insistence on exercising their rights despite systematic oppression made them an unstoppable force of justice.
This ultimately resulted in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – an incredibly significant legacy that these activists have left us all today.
Pursuing the Truth: John Lewis’s Journey to Equality
Through careful study and preparation, activists understand both their truth – the beliefs and principles for which they stand – as well as how to fight for it.
This is something that John Lewis exemplified throughout his life.
Growing up in the cotton fields of Alabama, Lewis devoted himself to rigorous study of history, political theory, and philosophy and tore through newspapers in search of knowledge.
He wanted to learn why his world was the way it was in order to create meaningful change.
Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr.
was dedicated to developing a plan to realize his own truth – that all people are equal.
King recognized the importance of rigorous academic study and earned a PhD while learning from major theologians and philosophers.
He also understood that the struggle required real leaders who could connect with average people, so he consciously built up his persona.
These role models serve as an example showing us that we have no excuse not to strive for understanding and hold ourselves accountable when we fail our fellow citizens by not paying attention to rising poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, homelessness, or limited access to healthcare.
We must recognize our interconnectedness as a global community and accept that fighting for equality can often be extremely difficult but is necessary if we want drastically improve social conditions for generations to come.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Example of How to Use Action to Make a Difference
Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment to civil rights was driven by much more than words or hope.
He wanted to see the dignity of all people be respected and celebrated, and he worked hard to make this a reality.
One key factor in his success was the way he manifested the humanity of the cause through his actions.
For example, when Dr.
King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 with a hefty cash prize, he chose not to use it for himself or even donate it to charities.
Instead, he donated every cent to the civil rights cause as an act of selflessness and love.
His donation demonstrated that justice and inclusion for all should not have a price tag, and this powerful action had an immense influence on others who joined alongside him in civil rights battles for decades afterwards.
His actions were brave and showed how important it is to show compassion and understanding when striving to bring about societal change–which is why Dr King is immortalized as a symbol of courage and equality today.
With his dedication to compassion over injustice; risk-taking over apathy, we can learn so much from his legacy of exemplifying how essential it is let our actions manifest humanity first and foremost.
The Power of Radical Love: How John Lewis Revolutionized a Nation with Non-Violent Resistance
John Lewis was one of the most influential activists in the Civil Rights Movement.
He believed and lived by a revolutionary idea – that non-violent resistance is the ultimate weapon of love.
This belief drove his actions, from leading protests to organizing peaceful marches.
One of his most powerful examples of this idea came during one of the Freedom Rides in 1961.
While riding a bus through South Carolina, John and his fellow activists were violently attacked by a racist mob.
Yet throughout the incident, John never responded with violence or raised his arm in self-defense; he held true to his commitment of peacefulness and non-resistance even when facing tremendous hostility and danger.
The incredible thing is that this courageous stance worked!
After 40 years, one of John’s attackers reached out to him with an apology; something no court ruling or punishment could have inspired.
It was only when confronted with John’s commitment to non-violence that the attacker began to recognize his own guilt – a realization that would have been much harder if John had used any form of violence in self-defense.
The Choice to Let Our Own Light Shine In: A Lesson From John Lewis’s Lifelong Struggle
John Lewis believed that everyone has a unique light within them that needs to be expressed in order to bring out the potential of others.
And while inspiring people to let their own light shine wasn’t something he started, he did utilize the power of this light as a tool for radical activism with the civil rights movement.
It’s no secret that pushing for change can be an incredibly difficult and often dangerous endeavor.
However, John Lewis was able to use his own life as an example of showing that it is possible to make a difference, no matter how big or small.
He firmly believed that by encouraging all people to “fan their sparks into flames,” we can create real and lasting change.
The key message here is clear – by allowing our internal lights to shine brightly, we have the power to encourage those around us and become powerful forces of radical activism.
Just think what could happen if everyone followed the example set by John Lewis, and allowed their gifts and talents to be used in the pursuit of making positive change.
When it comes to creating real change, Across That Bridge provides a powerful and inspiring reminder of the message of its author, John Lewis: we must cultivate the qualities needed for enduring success in any cause.
These include courage, effort, and perseverance—and a direct inspiration from the struggles of people before us.
Across That Bridge ultimately shows how anyone can make an impact on their world by studying and emulating the successful civil rights movement as a template.
In his book, John Lewis provides valuable insights into the mechanics of effective mobilization and what it takes to make lasting social change.