The late Rep. John Lewis published a posthumous op-ed in the New York Times Thursday morning, repeating his call for Americans to get in “good trouble, necessary trouble,” in order to “redeem the soul” of their country.
The civil rights icon wrote the essay shortly before his death, requesting it be published on the day of his funeral. The Thursday funeral, at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, caps six days of memorial services across five different cities.
Lewis, who represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for more than 30 years, died this month after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
More:Civil rights icon John Lewis will be buried Thursday in Atlanta with three former presidents in attendance.
In his essay, Lewis wrote about visiting the recently instated Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., Shortly before being admitted to the hospital.
“I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on,” he wrote.
Lewis linked the racial injustice that launched the civil rights movement in his youth to the violence that led to the Black Lives Matter movement today.
“Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor,” he wrote. “(Till) was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.”.
Lewis offered advice for Americans who sought to “set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.”.
“Voting and participating in the democratic process are key,” he wrote. “The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”.
Lewis spent his early years fighting for African American voting rights, serving as an original Freedom Rider and famously leading the Bloody Sunday demonstration across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Lewis also spent much of his time as a lawmaker fighting against voter suppression.
Kathleen Kingsbury, acting editorial page editor of the Times, published a piece alongside Lewis’ echoing Lewis’ call for equitable voting access.
“Americans who want to honor Mr. Lewis and continue his fight for civil rights can do so by urging their lawmakers to restore the protections enshrined in the Voting Rights Act, for which Mr. Lewis fought so ardently,” Kingsbury wrote. “Ensuring that all Americans can exercise the right to vote was Mr. Lewis’s unfinished work. It’s up to the nation to finish it.”.
Lewis also called on Americans to “study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time.”.
“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war,” he wrote.