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Opinion John Lewis is gone, but his legacy lives on

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Capitol Hill in Washington in June 2013.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Capitol Hill in Washington in June 2013. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Regarding the July 19 front-page obituary for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), “The faithful ‘saint’ of civil rights”:

Yes, he got into a lot of good trouble.

Mr. Lewis wasn’t just a civil rights leader. He was a civil leader, the epitome perhaps of what the Founding Fathers hoped for in our evolving political discourse — a man who fought tirelessly for what was right, just and moral, and yet was determined always to reach out to his opponents.

He was the all-too-rare leader in these terribly dangerous times who was willing to powerfully debate someone one day and then stand in proud alliance with him or her an hour later in agreement on another issue.

We are not weaker for his loss; we are stronger for what he taught us — and the next generation of fighters for liberty, justice and the common good.

Steve Stone, Richmond

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was “gentle and elegant,” noted Michele L. Norris in her July 19 op-ed tribute, “A civil rights giant passes the baton.” Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) saw “nastiness as a virtue,” wrote Jeff Shesol in “Newt Gingrich’s lasting legacy: Making nastiness a political virtue,” his July 19 Book World review of Julian E. Zelizer’s new book, “Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.” What a contrast. 

Among Mr. Lewis’s final acts of public service was to co-author a letter with Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) supporting more funding for “teaching civics in schools,” reported the July 19 news article “U.S. political leaders remember Rep. John Lewis as a ‘titan’ of civil rights.” 

Mr. Lewis taught civics every March by taking fellow members of Congress across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., as part of the annual commemoration of the 1965 civil rights march in which state troopers brutally used whips, nightsticks and tear gas to stop the march, injuring Lewis and others, in an event that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Glenda C. Booth, Alexandria

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