‘Conscience of the Congress’ Our State of Mind by Robin Martin
Monday the journey of a man’s life that changed America, made a stop in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill. John Robert Lewis’ remains lie in state for constituents and public to pay respects.
Many wanted to be a part of that journey. So, a diverse group of mourners, multi-generational and economically diverse gathered in front the Capitol to pay respects, to reflect on the life work, and the challenges of a humble man, who only wanted America to live up to her pledge of ‘liberty and justice for all.”
The public moved orderly, were patient and polite as the line moved at a snail’s pace. A large sympathy card could be seen juxtaposed on the corner that read, “our deepest sympathy,” with three signatures.
Parents, grandparents, and children withstood the obstacles of the pandemic, the heat, the wait, and the city asking that admirers not drive to Washington, D.C. to pay respects to Congressman Lewis.
A cluster of local firefighters was gathered along the sidewalk along the last stretch before the entrance to pay respects. They handed out free bottled waters stored in a cooler.
Ahh, some relief, as the mourners inched closer to the entrance where the sign read, “face coverings required.”
In the hot, steamy night lines were wound around two city blocks. Brief shots of a cool breeze relieved hot, sweaty, body parts and provided some relief from the humidity in the air.
Moving at a snail’s pace, a man asked if we had ever done this before. No, we answered. So, he shared with us his story. He paid respect to Rosa Parks on October 30, 2005, for two days, in the Capitol Rotunda.
Ms. Parks was the first woman and the second African-American to lie in state at the Capitol, which made Lewis the third African-American to lie in state at the Capitol. Ms. Parks and Mr. Lewis were civil rights activists together who organized and marched for equality for African-Americans.
The Honor Guard was poised on either side of the flag-draped casket. They did not flinch in the draining heat, atop the steps of the Capitol.
Professional photographers, amateur photographers, the people wanting to capture a piece of history, all took photos, selfies, and made videos of the remains of Congressman Lewis from a distance.
And the extraordinary final act he wrote, “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation’ an essay published on the day of his funeral, July 29, in the New York Times. A message to millennials and Black Lives Matter supporters to continue to get into good trouble, fight the good fight for racial and social justice. Keep fighting his fight.
Just as the night was coming to a close, ‘ The Last Word’ with Lawrence O’Donnell, announced Morgan Freeman would read Mr. Lewis’ essay on-air.
The New York Times is a news organization that was not always supportive or understanding of Dr. King, the civil rights movement in thought, word, or deeds.
What a celebration of life for the sharecropper’s son who preached to chickens, studied theology, became a famous civil rights activist, an Atlanta City Councilmen, and elected to the United States Congress. Congressman Lewis was the longest-serving member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“It was my honor to serve with him in Congress and walk alongside him crossing te Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years after Bloody Sunday.” Congressman Donald Norcross, (NJ-01).
“Though I may not be here with you , I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” Congressman John Robert Lewis
African American History
1867 – St. Augustine’s was founded in 1867, making it one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities or HBCU )in the United States.
On August 1, 2012, St. Augustine’s College became St. Augustine’s University. St. Augustine’s awarded its first baccalaureate degree in 1931, after being accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Closely associated with the Episcopal Church, St. Augustine’s was initially opened as a school for former slaves.
Ms. Martin is an educator, freelance writer and 2008 Monmouth University Dr. King Unsung Hero recipient. firstname.lastname@example.org