As the great John Lewis lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, the OPCMIA mourns the loss of a true American hero.
From a remarkably young age all the way to his passing at age 80, John Lewis demonstrated extraordinary courage at every moment in his pursuit of civil rights, voting rights, human rights, inclusion, and social and economic justice.
Whether at a Nashville lunch counter, where he participated in sit-ins as a college student, to his march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where he was brutally beaten, to his moral leadership in 33 years in Congress, John Lewis risked everything — his life, his health, his freedom — to do the right thing.
As someone who had every right to be bitter about all the suffering he endured to build a better nation, John Lewis instead was an uplifting force of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation. He chose love over hatred, always. And he never stopped fighting for justice.
John Lewis was both strong and gentle, fierce and kind, determined and joyous. He was always true to himself. Always a friend of the labor movement and a champion of union members. And always on the right side of history.
He was often called the conscience of Congress, but really John Lewis was the conscience of a nation — always driving America to do better, to move forward, to build what he and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the beloved community.”
Let us resolve as a union, and as Americans, to honor John Lewis’ memory by emulating his example and making “good trouble, necessary trouble” to win justice, to end racism, and to bring our nation closer to its founding ideals. Let us restore the Voting Rights Act in his honor. And let us expand his legacy further by continuing his life’s great work.
Daniel E. Stepano