Fare thee well, late US Congressman, John Lewis

Members of Parliament of Ghana joined the world last Thursday to eulogise long time US congressman John Robert Lewis, who died of cancer on July 17, 2020 at age 80.

The world is mourning the memory of John Lewis- a member of the US congressional delegation to Ghana in 2019, because of what he stood for, and, what it meant for many people around the world.

 A brief history gathered by the Ghanaian Times is that, during his 80 years on earth, he championed non-violent and spiritual values that made him an American icon. The ordained Baptist Minister rose from his humble Alabama beginnings to the halls of the U.S. Congress.

His journey however, has been ardours. Long before going to Washington, he quietly protested injustices at segregated lunch counters, on interstate buses, and walking across bridges guarded by state police with night sticks, bullwhips and tear gas.

He almost lost his life on a“Bloody Sunday” in Selma. As the youngest and last surviving member of the Big Six civil rights leaders, Lewis devoted his principles to a lifetime of activism.

No wonder the late Lewis became the leader of the Voter Education Project, a top ally to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an Atlanta City Councilman, before becoming a member of Congress. 

He would later counsel several American presidents and received the nation’s highest honour himself, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Many agree that John Lewis, who also became the “Conscience of the Congress”, would go down in history as a positive and historic role model for us all.

Indeed, he embodied dignity in the face of vicious opposition. He risked everything for justice, and persevered in his fight, choosing forgiveness over bitterness. 

Unfortunately, the American icon died at the time the US is wrestling with endemic racism-the very ills he fought against throughout his life.

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, set the tone for members to pay their tribute when he said, “Like Ghana, incidentally, the peaceful civil rights movement in the USA has a Big Six, as they are well known in the United States of America, of whom Dr Martin Luther King stood tall.”

On his part, the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu, recalled how the late Lewis and others reacted when George Floyd, a black American man killed last May by a police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.

He said the calmness with which the late Lewis and other civil right group responded, won the admiration of many across the globe and urged public office holders to emulate their example to ensure peace in the world.

As we mourn the death of one of the greatest heroes, we dare say that, there is a lot the world can learn from his principles and compassion to make the world a better place for all.

Fare thee well, John Lewis

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