Bridge Philanthropic Consulting extends deep and heartfelt condolences to the family of Congressman John Lewis as we all mourn the loss of one of America’s most prolific leaders for civil rights, justice, human rights, and social change. He dedicated more than 60 years to fighting for freedom and justice, risking his life and literally giving his blood because he reimagined an America that could live up to its promise. Serving in Congress for 33 years, he never wavered in his love for our country or his commitment to justice for every American.
From his humble beginnings as a son of Alabama sharecroppers, he became nationally known after the March 7, 1965, “Bloody Sunday” march to Montgomery, Alabama, when he and dozens of other marchers were brutally beaten after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma, Alabama. Images of that beating led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Congressman Lewis lived his mantra of not being silent when seeing injustice but instead sought to “Get into good trouble,” as he often said.
Congressman Lewis was my fraternity brother and I am deeply honored that he was a longtime personal friend as well as a mentor over the years. I will always treasure our friendship, our many talks, and the lessons I learned from him through a relationship spanning more than two decades. I will never forget his unparalleled example of what it means to serve with principle, courage, humility, dedication, and vision. I will miss him.
One of the many passions we shared was the high value placed on education. He believed intensely that young people of color having access to quality higher education is social justice that leads to social impact. Recognizing the critically important role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Congressman Lewis helped me to raise millions of dollars to support HBCUs and their students. As a fundraising executive for two of the largest philanthropic organizations for HBCUs, his support of me in my role was absolutely invaluable. Because he helped me and many others raise money for young Black people seeking to fulfill the dream of a college degree, thousands of them have and will continue to benefit from his generous investment of time, energies, and belief that educating new generations of young Black people would help bring social change.
And that is among the many gifts he has given to current and future generations – not the least of which is a lesson in the importance of fighting for justice for all. Whether people had an opportunity to hear him speak about the importance of fighting against injustice or will read about his unassailable courage in history books, Congressman John Lewis’s life and legacy have left an indelible mark on America and the world – one that should inspire us all to keep striving for equality, justice, and unity.