Seated expectantly in your office on Capitol hill,
We observed in the flesh one of the original Freedom Fighters.
Chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee;
The youngest speaker at the March on Washington;
Leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery;
Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia for 33 years –
A history maker stood right before us!
Before the social media hashtags, before we coined it ‘Black Lives Matter’,
You sacrificed your youth to drive the civil rights movement.
As participants of the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP).
We had the opportunity to be your guests:
You offered us soft drinks (or should I say soda) as we took our seats…
Let me take a quick moment to say, ‘Cheers to Southern hospitality!
We listened intently as you shared anecdotes of pain, struggle and resilience.
Instead of talking about your achievements and ‘wins’,
You reminded us of your humanity and the will to persevere in adversity.
The room remained quiet as you spoke, only occasionally interrupted by laughter as you added funny quips here and there.
How lucky we were to experience this side of you!
As former US president Barack Obama so eloquently put, you “believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect…”
I’m grateful I got to shake your hand and hug you that humid summer’s day in 2015.
What an honour and privilege it was to be in your presence;
To capture both in memory and pictures, your essence of servant leadership.
From America to South Africa,
From Selma to Soweto,
We have been influenced by you.
We press on because we remember you.
As we overcome the plight for justice and equality for all.
Honourable Congressman John Lewis, we salute you.
Rest in Peace. Rest in Power.