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The Passing of a Legend

president obama awarding senator lewis

Senator John Lewis would hardly depict himself as a legend, but I cannot think of anyone who better fits that description. He was a civil rights icon and hero and has made a mark on the political landscape of our nation that few others can match. His life was a sacrifice to social justice, and he spent it in its entirety in service to his people. 

I had the privilege of meeting him twice, the last time during the MLK Research Study Tour that the WVU Center for Black Culture and Research sponsored in 2009. President Obama had just been elected, and we were studying the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. beginning at his birth home in Atlanta and culminating with a visit to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee where he was assassinated. 

Few others living knew Dr. King the way that John Lewis did, so I definitely wanted students to meet him during our sojourn if possible. And when I contacted him to ask if he could visit with us about his role in the movement and his relationship with Dr. King, he graciously agreed, and spent nearly two hours with  our students relaying the fascinating details of his life and giving them priceless advice. He seemed to enjoy every minute with them, and when I thanked him for his time, he took my hand and told me that there was nothing more important he could have been doing than spending his time with young people. He then thanked them for coming to meet with him, and there was such sincerity in the way he said it, that I knew he meant it.

The passing of Senator John Lewis is an incomprehensible loss to most of us, and we will never see his like again. But we can all take comfort in the fact that he lives on in all the lives he has touched, and the legacy of his change making fight for equity and justice.

Rest well Senator Lewis. We will miss you!

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