While it might not be perceived to be as big a story as the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the passing of multiple civil rights legends in 2020 is, in fact, a clarion call to action.
Just as I was getting ready to retire for the evening, I learned of the passing of Georgia Congressman John Lewis, only hours after C.T. Vivian breathed his last breath. Both men worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights movement.
I knew little about Vivian until I got here to Alabama and visited Selma and learned the details of Bloody Sunday and all that he did to ensure that I had the right to vote. I knew about John Lewis having covered many, many stories involving Georgia congressman during my days as a television news producer in Atlanta.
Sitting right here next to my desk is Walking with the Wind, Lewis’ memoir. I referenced it in my a recent research project.
But it’s not just Lewis and Vivian passed away. Within the last six months, we’ve lost Dr. Joseph Lowery from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Black Enterprise Founder and Publisher Earl Graves. Both played crucial roles in the fight for civil rights.
Then in the Washington, DC area, longtime radio host Patrick Ellis also passed away. While he’s not associated with civil rights leadership, there are few who have hosted Sunday morning Gospel programs as long as he has.
WHAT THEY DID WE MUST DO
These men of God — used by the Almighty to create change in our world have now passed into eternity. But, what have they left for us to do?
I believe there is a call to action for those of us who believe strongly in the work to which they each dedicated themselves.
John Lewis spoke out about injustice, laid his life on the line and lived for decades after taken some physical blows in Selma, Ala. in 1965 that might have taken the average person out. He survived, thrived and kept on fighting for 60 more years until tonight. He lost his battle with cancer. But, he won so much more for the rest of us.
Likewise C.T. Vivian spoke up and challenged a Dallas County Sheriff in that same Alabama town. We owe to him to ensure that the right to vote is protected no matter what it takes. There are others now who are leading the 2020 fight to ensure all persons can exercise their right to vote.
And, Patrick Ellis left us a legacy of inspiring others with thoughtful words and sounds that reflect our Christian faith and the walk we take as a nation. Even if you were not in Washington, DC listening to Howard University radio on Sunday mornings, you would be inspired by reading Ellis’ story.
DOING MY PART
Tonight after about five years, I return to writing on this blog, called to action to do what I do– WRITE, RESEARCH, and ACT. Tonight I’m writing. But, the other things that I do in the researching and in my own actions as a black journalist and a Christian writer are the best way I can answer the call to take up the fight of John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, Patrick Ellis, Earl Graves and Joseph Lowery.
It’s time for me and you to do our part. If you’re already working, work more. If you’re not doing anything, it’s time to spring into action.
The Struggle Continues!