John Robert Lewis is a hero of the Civil Rights Movement. He was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, served as Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), organized voter registration efforts that led to the pivotal Selma to Montgomery marches, was one of the “Big Six” leaders who organized the March on Washington, coordinated SNCC’s efforts for “Mississippi Freedom Summer,” a campaign to register black voters across the South. He is best known for the role he played on March 7th, 1965, known as “Bloody Sunday”, when he helped lead over 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. At the end of the bridge, they were met by Alabama State Troopers who ordered them to disperse. When the marchers stopped to pray, the police discharged tear gas and mounted troopers charged the demonstrators, beating them with night sticks. Lewis’ skull was fractured. This, folks, is the man of whom Donald Trump said:
“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”
When I read this, my jaw dropped, I felt a flow of blood rush into my head, and I didn’t know whether to scream or cry. In the end, I stomped my foot, cussed a blue streak and sat down to write this post.
Representative John Lewis has performed more action, done more good for the cause of civil rights, supported more humanitarian causes in one decade than Trump ever has or ever will in his lifetime. I am not alone in my outrage.
“Definition of bad strategy: trump saying 50 year fighter for civil rights John Lewis is “all talk” over Martin Luther King holiday weekend.” – Political analyst Matthew Dowd
“The 5th is hardly the hellhole of Trump’s imagination. Have visited CDC there. Also has GA Tech and Emory. It is sad to run down Atlanta.” – Michael Gerson, Washington Post writer and former senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations
“I disagree with what @repjohnlewis said, but I honor the man he is. Honesty; integrity; courage-these are qualities you just can’t buy.” – David Axelrod, political analyst and author
The fact is that Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District includes parts of wealthy suburbs like Buckhead; the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Hardly what I would call horrible and falling apart.
What did Rep. Lewis do to draw the wrath of Don? He said, “I don’t see this President-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong.” He then said that he does not plan to attend the inauguration next Friday, the first he will miss since he was first elected to Congress in 1987, 30 years ago.
While some may disagree with Rep. Lewis’ comment, none can disagree that he has earned the respect of us all many times over. In addition to his extensive civil rights legacy, he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986, and has been re-elected with a minimum of 75% of the vote 14 times, running uncontested in six of those fourteen elections. John Lewis is one who is definitely not afraid to speak out and stand up for what he believes in. He has been arrested more than 45 times, most during the civil rights era of the 1960s, but he has also been arrested five times since becoming a Congressman for protests involving Apartheid, the genocide in Darfur, and protesting for immigration reform. As I said, the man stands by his convictions.
At least four other Congressmen and women plan to boycott the inauguration as well: Barbara Lee of California, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois.
Trump showed yet again that no one who crosses him — no matter how revered or respected, as Lewis is among both parties in Congress — will necessarily be spared his ire. Some speculate that fighting with Mr. Lewis distracted attention from a Senate investigation, announced the day before, that will look at possible contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign team and Russia. In addition, Mr. Trump’s poll numbers have slipped into uncharted depths for an incoming president, with a Gallup poll released on Friday finding that about half of Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump’s transition effort. His approval rating currently stands at 44%, down from 48% one month ago, and in sharp contrast with President Obama’s approval rating of 83% on the week of his inauguration in 2009. Gallup Poll data