Fearlessness Embodied: John Lewis
Driven by unrelenting moral conviction and demand for justice, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the son of Alabama sharecroppers, has been called a “giant” of the civil rights movement, a “lion” among peers and “the Conscience of the People’s House.”
As we celebrate Lewis’ life this week, we are reminded of the perseverance of his spirit, the power of his leadership and the permanence of his legacy.
One of the first Freedom Riders, and chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He led the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 to peacefully protest for Black Americans’ right to vote. Though he suffered a concussion and fractured skull at the hands of violent law enforcement, his efforts were not in vain. The National Voting Rights Act became law that year.
He was just getting started.
For 33 years, until his death, Lewis served in the U.S. Congress, tirelessly advocating for civil rights and civil liberties that bent the arc of history toward justice, one hard-earned notch at a time.
Shortly before his death, he visited the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. – a testament to the tremendous progress he made possible. And yet, we know there’s still so much work to do.
In 2018, he tweeted: "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."
Lewis’ work is our work, too – because health equity is inseparably linked with civil rights. Dismantling avoidable, unfair and systemically-caused differences in health requires Lewis’ brand of fearlessness – fueled by one simple truth: All people deserve a fair shot at life.
We are committed to carrying Lewis’ legacy forward as we work to bring health in reach for all Coloradans.