While many are giving their highest regards for John Lewis and his contributions to the freedom movement there is that emotional presence of sorrow. While our media emphasizes “we are mourning” our loss, my personal friendship and working relationship with Congressman John Lewis is more of a celebration for John Lewis. I realize this statement is difficult to imagine. Certainly, his departure from mortality to immortality gives many grief. However, John Lewis’ works gives all of us the moral playbook and advocacy to bring justice and equality to America.
For me, the beginning of the friendship with John Lewis begins in 1962 when I started as a field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee known as SNCC. We met in Atlanta. This beginning, along with other freedom fighters, I not only witnessed John Lewis’ leadership, but I experienced what he had been experiencing prior to my joining SNCC. John Lewis was a strong advocate of nonviolence. His basic principle was that of love as often spoke and taught by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Often, I had conversation with John Lewis concerning Dr. King Jr. since my father (Dr. Andrew J. Brown) had often had Dr. King at our home in 1956 and 1957 and other times prior to the ‘60s. When I began in SNCC, I was assigned to Selma, Alabama. It was in 1963 that I came often in contact with John Lewis and the total SNCC team of organizers.
The media and the many who knew John Lewis since his passing, in my opinion, have done an excellent series of presentations on Congressman John Lewis. It is interesting to note that Congressman John Lewis was here in Indianapolis two years ago for the Kennedy/King event. We talked briefly and he was really in a hurry to get out of Indy that day because it was an unbelievably cold day.
And, his remark to me was, “Tom, the next time, please pick a warm day for me to come.” John was no great lover of cold weather.
My relationship and knowledge of John Lewis is vast. We of the SNCC movement of the ‘60s were fortunate to work together in unity and harmony. John’s leadership was impressionable and compassionate. Of course, when he became “Congressman,” he “sowed seeds” of love.