To the editor:
In the last weeks of July, the country lost two great leaders: Rep. John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian.
Both men were followers of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and both stood for justice for all. I have been blessed to have marched in many civil rights marches. One of the most legendary was the march on Washington held in Washington in 1963. It was at this march that I witnessed Dr. King deliver this “I Have a Dream” speech.
I attended with my grandmother, my dad, cousins and other relatives. I knew who Dr. King was because he was a member of SCLC along with my great-great uncle Joseph Lover, who also died this year. I did not know Rep. Lewis or Rev. Vivian, but remember them speaking that same day I listened to Mahelia Jackson sing “Precious Lord Take My Hand,” a song that I had heard sung in our churches all my life.
During my tenure as president of the local NAACP, I attended the national convention in Louisville. It was there I had the honor to help escort Mrs. Rosa Parks to the podium. I have been blessed to have attended all the national conventions during my 20 years as president. I was also a regular attendee of the National Baptist Convention and the Progressive National Baptist conventions.
It was at the Progressive Convention that I had the honor to been a play with Dr. M.L.K. Sr. entitled “Sing Amen.” While attending my fraternity conventions Omega Psi Phi Conventions, I would be blessed to hear and see many intelligent speakers, and to serve on committees and board with people like Dr. Howard Thurman, Andy Young, Julian Bond and many others.
I was reminded by watching Rep. Lewis’ funeral how important he was, how he had suffered for the cause of freedom and justice. To have watched three past presidents speak at his funeral, it brought tears to my eyes as I watched President Obama deliver his eulogy. It also brought to my memory how it was back in 2009 that I had attended his inauguration.
John Lewis’ work was not in vain. It will live in those of us who watched his life and will in many ways emulate what he taught and lived.
Michael D. Lowery
former president of the Hopkins County NAACP