The Nashville Movement: How Students, Nonviolence, Discipline, And Organization Enduringly Advanced Equality And Justice (Forbes)

FORBES | Today, we honor Juneteenth. We honor the sacrifice, resilience, and perseverance taught by civil rights leaders. And we honor those that continue the fight for racial justice today.    

More work remains to be done. But we can use history and the lessons from those before us to continue paving the path forward. As a former colleague of mine in the U.S. Congress, the civil rights activist John Lewis, said over 60 years ago: “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Will there be a better day for it tomorrow or next year?”   

Back in 2004 while I was Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, I joined Congressman Lewis on his annual civil rights pilgrimage with the Faith and Politics Institute to Alabama and Tennessee. I had worked with Lewis over the previous decade on issues of health care disparities, but it was this four-day journey with him that opened my eyes to the realities that had been endured by so many. And I was introduced to his humility and leadership – and his willingness to face violence and intimidation, injustice and oppression, with steadfast love and bravery.    

 A year later I returned with him on the next pilgrimage, this time to Selma to recognize, remember, and pay our respects on the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. There are no words for this complicated moment in our nation’s history. But later, reflecting on that day walking alongside Congressman Lewis across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I remarked, “It is difficult for me to find the words to express the power of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Congressman John Lewis as we crossed that bridge… We walked in the footsteps of giants.”   

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