I didn’t get much reading done last night because I went to see Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin speak.
They seem like an unlikely pair. Andrew Aydin grew up loving comic books. John Lewis marched at Selma alongside Martin Luther King Jr. They met when Aydin got a job answering his letters. But when they took turns speaking and answering questions, it was obvious why they work together so well. They share a common cause – to educate young people to get into “good trouble”.
Congressman Lewis spoke low and soft. A few times I had to strain to hear him. He was serious and stern and then he would make a joke that lightened the mood. But his voice rose passionately as he talked about how important it was to fight when we saw something we thought was wrong or a threat to our democracy. He said that voting is the most powerful nonviolent tool in our democratic society. He would know. People were willing to beat and kill the marchers to keep them from having that right. It was sobering but not as much as when a young boy stood up and asked how to stand up to bullies. It broke my heart to think that he might be asking because he was asking for himself. But Congressman Lewis’ answer was for everyone. It wasn’t warm and fuzzy. It was strong and true. “Violence begets violence.” he said. Hate for others stems from fear. And we need to approach them with love. Speak out. Get into trouble. “The good kind”. Protect our democracy. Don’t let what people like John Lewis fought for be forgotten. Don’t give up. John Lewis hasn’t and he’s been fighting for over 50 years.
If you haven’t read these three books, I strongly suggest you do so. Now. Maybe move them to the top of your TBR. Not because they’re award winning books (National Book Award, Coretta Scott King Award, to name a few) but because they are an important part of history that we cannot, should not forget. It’s ugly and sometimes it’s hard not to look away. But look. It shows how far we’ve come and how important it is that we don’t rest and let progress slide. There’s still more work to do. March.