#BelovedCommunity Rep. John Lewis

“You never become bitter,” Rep. John Lewis said. “You never become hostile. You never try to demean your opposition.” National Public Radio

A baton is aimed at young John Lewis, on ground, foreground right during a peaceful demonstration. His skull was fractured. March 7, 1965./Associated Press photograph  

Recent monumental pandemic news stepped into background noise for me as I listened transfixed to the heartfelt, emotional and proud commemorations, funeral moments and memorial for the famed #GoodTrouble #BelovedCommunity creator, Rep. John Lewis. I learned that Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, spoke to his courage and strength in sticking to his pledge to always conduct himself nonviolently, even under torture, in events that could lead to death:

IN the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

According to an interview with his sister, she remembered in child days that her big brother John recited Invictus, walking from room to room in their house. They lived in segregated Pike County, Alabama, where the local library denied her book-loving, voracious reader brother, a library card to the whites-only, tax-supported facility. The boy once denied a library card, became a member of the United States Congress in 1987, and later was honored as a book author, at the Library of Congress, on more than one occasion.

Rep. Lewis’ peaceable human rights actions, for what he thought of as #BelovedCommunity, were in keeping with his earliest studies, to become an ordained minister.  His degree from Fisk University was in philosophy and religion. As a boy he thoroughly read the Bible at home, his sister remembered. He also liked learning, from the newspaper, that the already-admired civil rights activist Rosa Parks and a new person on the Alabama scene, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., called for peaceful protest. And, she said, he liked comic books, for their Justice League heroes, who righted wrongs.

So, so fitting, that his National Book Award winning triology MARCH, is told as a graphic novel, as illustrated below by Nate Powell, all rights reserved. See The Horn Book Q/A with the Congressman.

from the John Lewis triology, with Andrew Aydin, illustrations copyright Nate Powell, all rights reserved

As I find poems about Rep. Lewis, I will link them here. “John Lewis” is a tribute poem I recommend to you from  my talented Poetry Friday colleague ,Michelle Kogan.

Appreciations to a group that means much to me #BigBendPoetsandWriters @BigPoets for sharing this poem about US Rep. John Lewis, by Avis Veronica Simmonds