The Rev. John Robert LewisA National treasure and legendary Civil and Human Rights Icon
The Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. Celebrates the life and witness of one of our Convention’s beloved soldiers, Congressman, The Rev. John Robert Lewis, a National treasure and legendary Civil and Human Rights Icon
Few men or women in the history of the world have achieved the international notoriety and impacted our present generation as did Congressman John Robert Lewis.
Like Jesus of Nazareth who came from humble beginnings and changed the world from time immemorial, Congressman John Robert Lewis, the son of sharecroppers, changed our perception of what is possible when we commit our lives to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality and justice.
Those of us in this generation whom he mentored and encouraged throughout his life to be “In Good Trouble” fighting for the causes for which Christ died, will truly miss his counsel, courage and tenacity. Often standing alone against the principalities and powers that promoted injustices—whether fighting for the right to vote, supporting undocumented workers, Black Lives Matter, reparations, gender equality, civil and human rights or anti-militarism—Congressman John Robert Lewis was a conscience to our Nation and The World.
A champion of the 1964 Voting Rights Act, Congressman Lewis never let us forget the struggles and sacrifices that our fore parents made to ensure that we have the right to vote. His consistency in the struggle for justice in the Civil Rights Movement and the US Congress and his insistence on following his conscience earned him the respect and admiration of men and women throughout the World.
A fearless advocate for Justice and Civil and Human Rights, his unrelenting commitment to the poor, disenfranchised and those who suffer from unjust systems and structures, Congressman Lewis provided hope and courage to those of us in the Progressive National Baptist Convention who are committed to our founding principles of Fellowship, Progress, Service and Peace.
A faithful member of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. (PNBC), Congressman Lewis was the recipient of the 2019 PNBC Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Award.
Congressman Lewis’s total life was the embodiment of Christ and Christ’s Ministry. One of the original Freedom riders, he was often on the frontline of the fight for justice, courageously confronting bigotry and hate, he constantly put his personal life on the line and was arrested over 40 times. During his recent illness, he participated in demonstrations against injustices, standing with the Dreamers, with those who demonstrate against environmental racism, and with the young people in the Black Lives Matter Movement.
His humility and ability to walk beside giants like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hammer,
Dr. Dorothy Height, Dr. James Lawson, Dr. C. T. Vivian and other Civil and Human Rights leaders, outstanding Pastors in our Convention, Congress persons as well as Presidents, Kings, and Queens, and never lose his common touch was admired by all who knew and loved him. Congressman Lewis was always accessible to young people and available to those who sought his counsel.
We, as Progressive Baptists, owe a great deal to Congressman John Robert Lewis. He taught us what it means to be Progressive and Baptist during these times of challenge and conservatism, when the values and achievements we hold dear have been eroded by mean and evil politicians and leaders that are attempting to destroy the gains in Civil and Human Rights that our fore parents bled and died for.
His life and witness continues to provide us with hope and confidence as we continue to follow his example and commit ourselves to stand on the “right side of history”.
Sleep on John Robert Lewis, Prince for Peace, Drum Major for Justice, and Freedom fighter for hope. Sleep on, Sleep on, Sleep on! We will forever feel your presence, your spirit and your courage as you are “Walking with the Wind” with the Angels in Heaven.
Dr. Timothy Stewart