Letter: John Lewis was inspired by Black Lives Matter movement

At the funeral of Congressman John Lewis, Barack Obama hailed him as a founding father, who was crucial in our country’s ongoing efforts toward a more perfect union. From an early age, John Lewis joined the struggle to end racial segregation, to expand protection under the law to all people, to give equal opportunity to all citizens, and to ensure voting rights for those who had been denied them.

John Lewis fought for civil rights, and he understood that the battle continues. Black Lives Matter is one of many organizations with its eye on the same prize. Moved by mass incarceration of black men and women and by their disproportionate death at the hands of police officers, the founders of Black Lives Matter wanted a healing and inclusive movement. Their mission statement cannot be clearer: We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a prerequisite for wanting the same for others.

At the end of his life, John Lewis was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. For him it represented millions of people motivated by compassion who set aside their differences to demand respect for human dignity.

— Carolyn Martin Shaw, Tabernash

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