Read this final essay by Rep. John Lewis on the day of his funeral

Originally published at:

“Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”


Rest in peace, Mr. Lewis. Thanks for the classy parting words.


Amen Representative John Lewis. Amen.


All due respect to courageous man who did so much good and to whom I feel so much gratitude, but non-violent resistance, while ideal, is not always what’s needed. It’s not enough when day after day, year after year, decade after decade, century after century wholesale physical, psychological, medical, educational and economical violence is done to millions, hundreds of millions, and if we step outside of the lines on a map and take into account our military and trade policies even billions every every day… and at least in part through the manipulation of that principle conditioned into us from childhood that “only nonviolent resistance is acceptable!” As Rep. Lewis said, we have a responsibility, and sometimes that responsibility means taking on less wholesome karma in the effort to end injustice and suffering and straight-up evil. That we have not risen up as a people and enforced a more just existence when so much truth is no longer hidden from us in 2020 is an irrevocable stain of cowardice on our collective soul as a nation.

Rest in peace, John, and thank you for your life.


I didn’t expect to listen to the funeral, It was just on when I turned the TV on before work. But now I am interested. Lots of touching stories and 3 former presidents giving eulogies.


Rest in Power, brother.


Obama’s eulogy was incredible, even by his sky-high oratorical standards. Just 2 of several highlights included referring to Lewis as a ‘Battered prophet’ and a ‘founding father.‘

March on…


Listening to it now as I work…


Man, I sure have missed Obama’s voice. Hearing him speak again today, reminded me what leadership sounds like.


Leadership, intelligence, decency.


The narration of “A Lincoln Portrait” includes an interesting framing for the president’s own words:

“That is what he said. That is what Abe Lincoln said.”

In this tradition:

"When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself."

That is what he said; that is what John Lewis said.


And the President who claims to have done more for the Blacks than anyone since Lincoln refused to attend. He spent his day squatting in the bunker, writing tweets about how the election should be delayed because having it on schedule is unfair to him.


Frankly it would have been an even bigger insult if Trump had shown up considering he clearly didn’t respect Lewis in life and has consistently worked against everything Lewis ever stood for.


Morgan Freeman reading those words of that essay:

I don’t normally enjoy memorial services. (I don’t know anyone who does, really. Maybe this will change as I get older.)

I did listen to the whole entire service for Mr. Lewis, start to finish, and it was so clear to me that my days ahead must include [more] supporting the work of Mr. Lewis and his allies in all places.


From his death bed, John Robert Lewis urged Americans to vote in the upcoming election, calling it the most important election we have ever faced.

With that, here’s this:


Yeah, I agree, Obama’s eulogy was really good.

Was he even invited? Or was it one of those “You have to invite your estraged brother, but of course he won’t show up - thank God.”


Given how unpredictable ThatOrangeBadMan is, and given how even a non-zero chance of his attending is still a potential toe in the door… nope nope nope: there is simply no sense in extending an invitation and hoping he’s a no-show. The potential of his hijacking every narrative, speechifying wherein every accusation a confession, serving up a televised, live-streamed strungout rambling of more lies and distraction, just nope. In fact, I hope he was definitely expressly not invited.

Plenty of human dignity, grace and courage on display yesterday at Mr. Lewis’ memorial service. We are all hungry for that, and for a version of our nation where positive change is still actually possible. I listened to the whole service and shed tears. Mr. Lewis did keep the faith in what America can be. I have suffered far less than he did, and am struggling to keep my faith in same.

Speaking as a born-here U.S. citizen, the past for year have given me the barest glimpse of what it must be like to live under a mad king, a fully co-opted kleptocracy is supported by BrownShirtsInc., a bizarre unhinged regime with sensational perverse dogwhistle-tastic proclivities, etc.

It’s our turn in the barrel now.
How long we (in the U.S.) stay inside it is the question.


I actually agree with you. I wouldn’t invite him either. I am curious if he was, though.

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Thanks for posting that.


Is there a copy somewhere that’s not paywalled?

The entire text, because it’s worth sharing:

"While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

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.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. 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. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. 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.

You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

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.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide."

There’s also a YouTube video out there of Morgan Freeman reading it aloud.