John Lewis: 'Now it is your turn to let freedom ring'

John Lewis: 'Now it is your turn to let freedom ring'
© Greg Nash

The late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Harris launch Trump offensive in first joint appearance More than 50 Confederate monuments have been removed since Floyd's death: report Trump rips Bill Maher as 'exhausted, gaunt and weak' MORE (D-Ga.) said in a posthumous op-ed that he had been “inspired” shortly before his death by nationwide demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd in May.

In a piece published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral, the civil rights titan recounted his own fears after the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955 and his own path to the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Lewis called on the next generation to carry on the mantle of civil rights and continue getting into “good trouble, necessary trouble.”

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“While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society,” Lewis wrote. 

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way,” he added. “Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

Lewis wrote that he had to visit the site of demonstrations in Washington, D.C., in the newly established Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House in June to see the latest manifestation of the civil rights movement. Lewis was hospitalized the next day. 

“I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on,” he wrote.

Lewis, who after a prominent role in the civil rights movement represented an Atlanta-area district in the House for more than 30 years, died on July 17 at the age of 80. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December. 

Lewis was given the rare honor of lying in state at the U.S. Capitol two days earlier this week, and a funeral will be held for him Thursday at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the site of King’s funeral in 1968. Former President Obama will be one of the attendees to deliver a eulogy.