The ELC Mourns the Loss of Civil Rights Icons Rep. John Lewis and Rev. C. T. Vivian
The “Conscience of the Congress” has received his well-deserved wings. The Executive Leadership Council mourns the loss of Civil Rights icon and Georgia congressman Rep. John Lewis. A man who answered the call, the Boy from Troy, as affectionately called by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an architect of the historic March on Washington. He will always be remembered for his unwavering acts of courage and leadership on Bloody Sunday at the Edmond Pettis Bridge, leading to the Voting Rights Act being signed into law only months later.
His accolades, accomplishments and achievements are too vast to mention. His sacrifices paved the way for the successes of our ELC members. His constant fight opened the doors for Black CEOs and Board Directors in the highest levels of leadership in corporate America. It is because of his often unsettling journey that we are privileged to focus on developing the talent pipeline of the next generation of Black leadership.
“People ask me all the time whether the election of President Barack Obama is a fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream,” said Lewis. “I say no. It is just a down payment.”
This quote is particularly poignant given that less than two months ago, America found itself in the midst of the largest civil rights movements of our lifetime. I am reminded of the visual of Rep. Lewis standing several blocks from ELC’s office on Black Lives Matter Plaza, The White House in the background, where only a few short years ago the first Black President of the United States resided. The power and magnitude of this singular moment was made possible by Lewis’ work. This was one of his last public appearances.
It is not lost on us that two of our treasured civil rights leaders left this strife-driven world on the same day. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the family of Rev. Cordy Tindell “C. T.” Vivian, one of Dr. King’s closest advisors and friends. The Freedom Rider, Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader and voting rights champion received the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom from the first Black President of the United States.
The issue of voting rights, a fight of passion for Congressman Lewis, continues to be an ill that plagues our nation, with the Black community being disproportionately impacted. We will do our part to continue the “Good Trouble” started by Vivian, Lewis and their fellow champions for civil rights. We will work with our partners to ensure our voices are heard at the ballot box and continue our fight to increase the number of Black leaders in corporate America.
As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Congressman John Lewis and Rev. C. T. Vivian knew better, and fought daily throughout their entire lives doing better. As they pass the baton firmly to us, we, as a nation, are required to do the same. While you may be gone from us, you will not be forgotten. Rest in Power and Peace as you have truly earned that right.
Continuing the unfinished fight,