The late Rep. John Lewis published a op-ed in The New York Times Thursday morning expressing his last thoughts and needs to the American people.
The civil rights legend wrote an essay shortly before his death and requested it to be released on the day of his funeral. Lewis represented Georgia's 5th Congressional District for more than 30 years before passing away this month from pancreatic cancer.
Before being admitted to the hospital, Lewis had gotten the opportunity to visit the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C., inspiring him to write about his experience in his essay:
"I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on."
Lewis goes on by mentioning his experience dealing with police brutality:
"Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars."
The icon continues his essay by referring to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being an inspiration to him to speak out on the social injustices in the world:
"He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out."
Lewis then offered his advice to Americans who would like to follow in his footsteps in enacting change:
"Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it."
If there is one person to take advice from, it's Lewis. After his extensive history of fighting for African Americans voting rights and serving as a Freedom Rider, he continued to spend his time as a lawmaker battling against voter suppression. Lewis ended his essay by speaking directly to the American youth:
"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 my 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."
To read Lewis' full essay with The New York Times, click here.
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