Children, not away from those in Congress who are still fighting the good fight – Katie Porter and her Whiteboard of Justice, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez skinning witnesses with the truth, Adam Schiff setting out the arguments for Trump’s impeachment – our pick for 2020 Legislative Badass must be MP John Lewis, who died on July 17th of pancreatic cancer. He left an America he had measurably improved at a time when young Americans took to the streets to continue the fight for justice. As Stephen Robinson of Wonkette wrote,
It hardly seems fair as the demons he has fought all his life still endure. The cops who beat him bloody in Selma are not the same as those who beat up demonstrators today, but they have the same Nuremberg excuses: “We only obey orders.” Lewis has defied the unjust laws of an unjust society and that always puts you on the other end of a police baton, rubber bullets, or tear gas.
It’s easy to get sentimental about John Lewis, the civil rights icon who talked about getting into good trouble. That’s fine and good because God knows we’re sentimental here. But it’s also worth noting that Lewis and those he marched with faced batons, tear gas, police dogs, and not infrequently the threat of the bomb or bullet that would silence them for good.
America loves its heroes, but not necessarily right now do they draw attention to America’s problems that require heroism to resolve.
At Lewis ‘funeral, Barack Obama remembered the Selma-Montgomery march and the Alabama State Troopers’ beatings that left Lewis with a broken skull, and the laudatory speech was suddenly as much around 2020 as it was 1965:
On that day, I first imagine that the soldiers thought they had won the battle. You can imagine the conversations they had afterwards. You can imagine them saying, “Yes, we showed them.” They thought they were going to turn the protesters back across the bridge. They had kept that, they had retained a system that denied the basic humanity of their fellow citizens. Except this time there were some cameras. This time the world saw what was happening and testified by black Americans who demanded nothing but to be treated like other Americans, who demanded no special treatment, only equal treatment promised them a century earlier, and almost another Century earlier.
Lewis, Obama said, affirmed that “most of American ideas, the idea that each of us, ordinary people of no rank or fortune or title or fame, can somehow point out the imperfections of this nation and come together and question the status quo “. John Lewis, Obama added, was as much a founder of America as it should be, as were these white men, many of them slaves to other Americans, who wrote the nation’s blueprint but didn’t finish building it (it still isn’t ) finished):
America was built by people like you. America was built by John Lewises. Like everyone else in our history, he brought this country a little closer to our highest ideals. And one day, when we finish this long road towards freedom, when we form a more perfect union, whether in years or decades, or even if it is two centuries more, John Lewis will be a founding father of this fuller, more just, better America.
And if that isn’t a thought of leading us into a new year with a new president and first vice president of the nation’s black woman, I don’t know what it is.
There is still a lot of work to be done, like passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, to make voting fair again. To do this, the people of John Lewis’ home state will have to cast their votes in just five days – we really believe this can happen.
But let’s dance one more time with John Lewis, dancing in the spirit of what old anarchist troublemaker Emma Goldman never actually said.
WARNING: This video of Congressman John Lewis dancing can make you “happy” at the @Pharrell level. 🎵… https://t.co/Ir3eyQvaqF
– CBS News (@CBS News) 1541110835.0
Happy New Year to all of us, everyone.
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