Shortly before civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis died, he wrote an opinion piece that encouraged youth to “let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”
The piece was published in The New York Times on Thursday, the same day as the lawmaker’s funeral. Lewis died on July 17.
He wrote that the current generation "filled [him] with hope about the next chapter of the great American story" as protests calling for racial justice swept the nation during the last few weeks of his life.
“That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day,” he said. “I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.”
He compared the incidents sparking outrage to the ones he experienced when he was young.
"Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me," Lewis wrote.
He urges the youth to vote and participate in the democratic process.
“The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society,” he wrote. “You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”
He said in his lifetime he has done “all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way.”
“Now it is your turn to let freedom ring,” he wrote.
He concluded, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.”
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