Wednesday, February 04, 2009

John Lewis Deserves Some Love Too

We are often tempted to roll the whole civil rights movement into the single person of Martin Luther King, Jr. He certainly deserves to be front and center, but he is a lot like the Beatles to the rest of the 60s.

I watched a documentary over the weekend (one from the "A Force More Powerful" series) about the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins in the early sixties. Like "Eyes on the Prize," it is always shocking to see what things were like back in the golden years of overt racism.

One of the many heroes of Nashville was John Lewis, then in his early twenties, now Congressman Lewis, the guy Obama hugged on his way out to be inaugurated. He is the only civil rights leader still alive who spoke on the Mall during the march on Washington.

I thought I was getting over all the unbridled hope and enthusiasm of the Obama inauguration, and into the reality of imperfect stimulus packages and tax-evading cabinet appointees.

And then I read The President's Hero in the New Yorker, and get all dewey-eyed again:

“People have been afraid to hope again, to believe again,” [Lewis] said. “We have lost great leaders: John F. Kennedy, Martin, Robert Kennedy. And so people might have questioned whether or not to place their full faith in a symbol and a leader. The danger of disappointment is immense, the problems are so big. None of them can be solved in a day or a year. And that’s the way it was with the civil-rights movement. This is the struggle of a lifetime. We play our part and fulfill our role.”

At the luncheon following the swearing-in ceremony, Lewis approached Obama with a commemorative photograph and asked him to sign it. The President wrote, “Because of you, John. Barack Obama.”

OK, just one more week of basking in the glow. Then I'll quit and start complaining again, I swear.

1 comment:

brownie said...

Which reminds me...I wonder exactly how tax-and-spend Democrats got this label...they don't pay their taxes! (some)