Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) – a life-long civil rights activist and a titan in our shared fight for equality and opportunity for all – passed away July 17.
His life and legacy were commemorated this week during a celebration of life ceremony that spanned six days. The late Congressman’s celebration of life included a two-day period where Lewis lied in state beneath the U.S. Capitol Rotunda – the first Black lawmaker in our nation’s history to do so.
Inspired by the work of friend and mentor, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman Lewis dedicated his life to the fight for equality beginning at a very young age and has gone on to inspire generations of civil rights advocates.
Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986 and quickly rose to be a respected policymaker and was often hailed as the conscience of the Congress. Lewis served on the House Ways and Means Committee where NMHC was honored to have worked with him and his staff throughout his time in office on advancing policies of importance to the multifamily industry and its residents.
Congressman Lewis is an American hero and his sacrifice for our nation must not be forgotten. It is our hope that his life’s mission for equal opportunity will live on – including through the work of NMHC. We are committed to racial justice and recognize that to further this mission we must take concrete steps to promote racial equity and inclusion within the industry and our own organization.
“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.
You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.
Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have 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.”
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