Though 2020 has been a weird year for the masses, we have still provided so much change overall. Racial injustice, along with many other issues and forms of activism, has been brought about even more from the murder of George Floyd in May. Even when we go back a couple of decades, John Lewis and his fight for equality is a perfect example of what community we should strive to be. The purpose of these words is to honor John Lewis, all that he did for us, and to contribute to his legacy of Good Trouble (which we will talk about later). Born on February 21, 1940, he became a United States Representative from 1987 to 2020 and was a national Civil Rights Leader. As an important figure of the Civil Rights Era, he did so much to strike improvement and justice. John Lewis had been facing a battle for freedom his entire life – for himself, for his family and friends, for his people, for us. He died from Stage 4 Pancratic Cancer on July 17, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 80.
There were countless protests and marches he led and contributed to that we can take inspiration and bravery from. One organization, called the Original 13 Freedom Riders, consisted of diverse activists who challenged interstate travel in 1961. John Lewis would take part in it, with 7 African Americans and 6 Whites against the segregation of the system. Through constant battle and hardship, the Interstate Commerce Commission would eventually pass laws that prohibited further segregated action in interstate travel circumstances. In addition, Mr.Lewis was one of the last surviving speakers who were present at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. In this specific march, he would be battling for the economic rights of African Americans. It is best known now as the event where Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech took place. John Lewis also took part in a march on March 7, 1965, that spoke out against restrictions on voting rights. This event took place in Selma, Alabama with it’s the pivotal point on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Simply wishing to pass across the bridge onto the rest of their march, the group of 600+ citizens instead got an attack of tear gas and other harmful weapons used playfully by the state troops. This event would go on to be known as Bloody Sunday, which led to the Voting Rights Act. All three events would become vital moments in Civil Rights and American history.
What is Good Trouble?
John Lewis never stopped fighting for what he believed in. To this day, though he is no longer here, we can feel his impact and we should be grateful for it. There were so many ideas that he spread onto us that we would be nowhere without. For example, he commonly used the phrase “Good Trouble,” which we mentioned before. You might be thinking, what is Good Trouble? It is described as the difference between saying something you shouldn’t and saying something you should even though it carries consequences. The problem is feeling like you have to shut out your ideas to be coherent with your environment. You don’t! Taking part in Good Trouble as John Lewis did and encouraged us to means to truly fight for what is right. In his own words, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something,”
In conclusion, John Lewis and his legacy is something we should never take for granted. A simple story of mine is when my own mother went to a cousin’s college graduation. Mr. Lewis was the speaker and they shared a simple exchange of a wave. That moment has replayed in my mother’s head ever since then, and it will never be forgotten due to all he has done for human lives overall. We need to strive to be recorded in a person’s mind for the difference we made in their lives. Whether it’s us individually or as a group, as long as you do something for the better of everyone, you will be participating in Good Trouble and contributing to Mr. Lewis’s legacy. We need to look up to John Lewis, follow in his footsteps, and fight back. No matter what, at least we’ve made an impact and did our part for the betterment of society. John Lewis would be proud.
Alexa Garcia (Lexie) is a 15-year-old Dominican-American with dreams to see the world and inspire others through her craft. Her main goals consist of pursing Film, Theater Arts, and Creative Writing/Poetry. She is also very passionate about Self Love, Scoliosis Awareness, Feminism, Environmental activism, etc. She is a Tech and Visual Arts major at High Tech High School in New Jersey. Alexa is super excited to be a part of such a great community!