Remembering John Lewis: SNCC at 50
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FEATURING CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS -On July 17th, long-time Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis passed away at the age of 80. The revered lawmaker represented Georgia’s 5th district for over 3 decades. Lewis cut his activist teeth in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s and was a leading participant in the 1965 Voting Rights march in Selma, Alabama where he and others were beaten by state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in what came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Perhaps it is fitting that President Donald Trump, the most prominent white supremacist in the nation who has relentlessly attacked voting rights of people of color, battled with Lewis on social media accusing him of overseeing a “crime infested” district and accusing him of “all talk-talk-talk,” and “no action or results.” Trump refused to attend Lewis’s funeral.
In a New York Times op-ed published posthumously, Lewis left readers with some advice: “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.”
On July 30th Congressman Lewis was finally laid to rest in a funeral that featured eulogies by 3 past presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Clinton was excoriated for saying that SNCC went “too far” toward the more radical politics of Stokely Carmichael aka Kwame Ture, “but in the end, John Lewis prevailed.”
In 2010, on the 50th anniversary of SNCC, Congressman Lewis spoke at an event where he began by paying his respects to Carmichael and other leaders in a speech we will feature on our show today. This recording is courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives.
Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020), Pacifica Radio Archives recording of 2010 speech.