I’ve been unpredictably emotional in the days since John Lewis died.
Even with all of the crazy that 2020 has thrown at us, I almost couldn’t believe that he had passed during one of the most important times for Black lives, Black rights, and Black equality in recent history.
I feel devastated that he died while Black lives are still so disregarded in so many ways in this country—but I also feel heartened that he lived to see what is (hopefully) a massive shift happening for civil rights, for the BLM movement, for everything he fought for.
He was one of those people who is larger than life, with a heart and mind so great that it was hard to believe they were contained within just one body, just one man.
We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. We owe it to him to do our best to honor his unbelievably impactful legacy.
Here are 10 of his quotes, to remember him by, to engrave on our hearts and minds:
1. “Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?”
2. “Freedom is not a state; it is an act. It is not some enchanted garden perched high on a distant plateau where we can finally sit down and rest. Freedom is the continuous action we all must take, and each generation must do its part to create an even more fair, more just society.”
3. “We are one people, one family, the human family, and what affects one of us affects us all.”
4. “We are involved now in a serious revolution. This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic and social exploitation. What political leader here can stand up and say, ‘My party is the party of principles’?”
5. “I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe that we have an obligation to condemn speech that is racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, or hateful.”
6. “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
7. “Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.”
8. “A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option—for peace cannot exist where justice is not served.”
9. “Faith is being so sure of what the spirit has whispered in your heart that your belief in its eventuality is unshakable.”
10. “You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. […] Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself.”