Letter: Reflecting on Mr. Lewis

By Katherine McKersie

As we celebrate the great and important life of Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis this week, I recall the meeting our daughter, (then in fourth grade) had with Mr. Lewis in 2018. She had read his book for young people, “March,” and then asked his office if she could visit with him. Amazingly, he said yes. Some time later when we shared this story with Jim Himes he said that it did not surprise him at all about Mr. Lewis. The Congressman engaged with our daughter as I imagine he did all he met, whether president or pupil, as very important and worthy of his full attention. For one hour, he gave her a tour of his office and shared many stories. It was hard not to keep saying, “Wow.” When she came home, she wrote about it for the paper, and shared that back with him. His legacy continued. This week in honor of Mr. Lewis, I implore all Greenwich residents eligible to vote, to make sure that you do in all future elections. He nearly lost his life for that right. This week, reflecting on Mr. Lewis and his life’s work, I recall that he told us his seatmate in the Freedom Rides was from Cos Cob, Mr. Albert Bigelow. This week, I recall all of this, and yes, I recall in recent days several ugly incidents in just our corner of the world, right here in Greenwich by folks whose work we know is important. These racist incidents show how far we still have to travel. 

In closing, I would like to quote Mr. Lewis, and implore us all to reflect, rethink and return the work of this remarkable man. He said, “As a nation…, we must move our feet, our hands, our hearts, our resources to build and not to tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate, to heal and not to kill. In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house-the American house, the American family.” [Walking With the Wind, p.50]

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