It was 1990. I was working in Washington, D.C., for a Georgia congressman and had to fly back to the district for meetings. When I plopped down on my Delta flight, sitting next to me also heading to Atlanta was then 50-year-old Congressman John Lewis.
Poor man. I spent the next two hours asking him questions about the civil rights movement and his marches with Dr. Martin Luther King and all the details surrounding the incarcerations, the speeches, etcetera, etcetera.
I had not even started law school yet, but I was great at interrogations. None of the stack of memos he had in his lap likely got read. He was so patient with me and spent the whole flight doing nothing but giving an inquisitive 24-year-old a history lesson up front and personal.
It was typical of the attitude of the man. He believed in his public responsibility to spend time with those of the next generation. He believed in nonviolence his whole life and preached the philosophy of King– a philosophy that would never agree with the burning of buildings and the killing of 8-year-old little girls in the name of a cause.
I didn’t agree with Lewis’ liberal and socialist tendencies of how government should more control the lives of citizens and how problems are solved by higher taxes and new bureaucracies. But Lewis never changed his attitude of disagreeing with others without being overly disagreeable. He was a “classic” liberal in that sense. If only today’s movement on the political Left believed that King’s peaceful protest was the right way.
King preached, and Lewis believed, that the great teacher and healer was Jesus Christ. He knew any movement without a faith in God was destined to fail. Today’s violent Left disdains this idea of a God in Heaven who requires us to be civil to each other. It is so passé.
They’re not making liberals like John Lewis anymore. God rest his soul.
Rep, Barry Fleming is Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Georgia House of Representatives. His district, 121, is Columbia & McDuffie Counties.