“Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” That’s one of the quotes from an iconic voice in the fight for equality, Representative John Lewis.
Lewis died from pancreatic cancer on Friday at the age of 80. The nation is remembering the congressman’s long and storied career. Lewis served in Congress for 33 years, until the day he died. However, many people know him as a civil rights leader and someone who carried the baton for racial equality. Lewis was arrested more than 40 times protesting segregation.
“That is one of the living legends or was one of the living legends we were able to look to,” Vaney Hariri, board member for the South Dakota African American History Museum, said.
Lewis was an original freedom rider and a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lewis was best known for leading 600 protesters in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Lewis was knocked to the ground and beaten by state troopers. Televised images forced the country’s attention on racial oppression.
“When I think about Selma, I mean, it’s hard for me not to think about it and be emotional,” Hariri said.
Hariri says Lewis’s civil rights work and voting rights legislation directly affect people of color living today.
“Absolutely. Without question. If anybody of color is walking around not knowing that, they need to know that,” Hariri said.
Hariri says he sees Lewis in the young people who are fighting for racial equality and says it’s up to them to get into the “good trouble” that Lewis often talked about.
“The whole point is the fact people have ignored these things requires somebody to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming, and it’s going to be uncomfortable. That’s the good trouble,” Hariri said.
Representative John Lewis’s accomplishments helped get us to where we are today, but Hariri says Lewis’s legacy is in our hands now.
“We want to be able to launch where they land. And, so, I don’t want to go through the same thing he went through. I want to take the baton from what he did and move it forward, so this legacy could be done honor,” Hariri said.