Letters to the Editor: Meeting John Lewis, humble congressman and civil rights hero

Rep. John Lewis views images in 2017 of his March 1963 arrest for leading a sit-in in Nashville.
Rep. John Lewis views images in 2017 of his March 1963 arrest for leading a sit-in at Nashville’s segregated lunch counters.
(Rick Diamond / Getty Images)

To the editor: I met Rep. John Lewis, who died on July 17, in the late 1990s when living in rural Georgia.

My late husband and I were involved in many activities for racial and social justice; he was a founding member of the Moore’s Ford Memorial Committee, a group formed in the 1990s to bring attention to the 1946 lynching of four African Americans in Walton County, Georgia.

Lewis learned of the groundbreaking work the group was doing, literally purchasing land for gravesites to honor lynching victims who had been forgotten for years. He visited us personally to validate the momentous work being done.


Lewis was both gracious and down to earth. It was a profound honor to meet him, and I pray his inspiration will continue to reverberate in all parts of this country long into the future.

Phyllis Durham, Reseda


To the editor: With the toppling of so many statues honoring Confederate generals, we should consider who to replace them with.

Lewis should be among those at the top of this list. For too long we have built monuments to military might and given secondary status to those who sacrificed with their blood through nonviolent protest.

As President Obama said, “Generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind.”

Monuments to Lewis will act to remind future generations of his courage and endurance for the sake of justice.

Steve Mills, Andover, Mass.


To the editor: While listening in person when I was 15 at the March on Washington to a diminutive but fiery John Lewis in 1963, it struck me that his was a call to action to students like me.

He said: “We will not stop.... If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington.”

He ended with, “We will not and cannot be patient.”

Lewis’ address has been overshadowed by Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech, but on the train back to New York, I couldn’t get his “fire” out of my mind.

Jeffrey Schachner, Los Angeles


To the editor: Truly an American hero has passed on.

Lewis was the speaker at my daughter’s graduation from Emory University in 2014. His message was that when we see something that is wrong and unjust, we must get in the way.

This is advice we should follow today.

Mark Sharzer, Los Alamitos