Seeing Congressmember John Lewis outside the Supreme Court this week in a rally to preserve Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act reminds us of his extraordinary life of activism. One of the original thirteen Freedom Riders, Lewis has been fighting for voting rights for over fifty years
---and is as passionate as ever. Lewis’ legacy is hardly news; he is a consensus first ballot choice in the 20th century’s activist Hall of Fame. But it’s still mesmerizing to see a man nearly beaten to death by racist southern police five decades ago still having a fierce dedication for the struggle. It would have been easy for Lewis to see the new obstacles to minority voting, and the Court’s likely ruling in the case, and just throw in the towel. But he has never quit the fight. The Supreme Court will likely strike down Section 5---Scalia and his allies would have issued Plessy v Ferguson
(upholding racial segregation) and rejected Brown v Board of Education
(which overturned Plessy
)---but John Lewis won’t be deterred. He is a living reminder of the activist commitment to justice, and why the struggle he has waged for over fifty years must continue.