Jesse Jackson calls John Lewis “a founding father of American democracy”

In a new Op-Ed for the Chicago Sun Times, Jesse Jackson refers to recently deceased lawmaker John Lewis as “a founding father of American democracy.”

Rep. John Lewis was carried across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma during Sunday’s memorial celebrations.

Jesse Jackson writes:

John Lewis was a leader, but he was more workhorse than show horse. Show horses preen to win the blue ribbon and the applause of the crowd. Workhorses pull the wagon — and get the job done. John Lewis with his quiet courage and his forceful moral vision pulled people with him. Elected to Congress, he put the Congress on his shoulders and tried by example and by organizing to make it better.

He never stopped. He took joy in how far we had come. There was a direct line from that horrible Bloody Sunday in Selma to the election of an African American president. Yet he knew we still have a long way to go.

No longer do we face separate and unequal public facilities. Our right to vote is clear, even if efforts to suppress it continue. But the final chapter of the civil rights movement — the effort to achieve economic justice — has been frustrated. Today economic inequality is as great as it was 60 years ago. We witness the structural racism that ends with African Americans three times more likely than whites to be infected by the pandemic and two times more likely to die. We witness the entrenched discrimination that ends in the police killing of George Floyd and many others.

That’s why the extraordinary, unprecedented outpouring of protests for Black lives is so important. John has left us, but millions have picked up the baton that he once carried — focused now on equal justice under the law, and on ending the structural racism that makes racial inequality a pre-existing condition. May John’s example — his courage, his devotion of nonviolence and to a lifetime of making “good trouble” — help inform that struggle as it goes forward.