John Lewis says 'the truth is still marching on' in powerful posthumous essay

Rep. John Lewis thanks anti-gun violence supporters following a rally with fellow Democrats on the East Front steps of the U.S. House of Representatives October 4, 2017 in Washington, DC
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The late Rep. John Lewis wrote a powerful essay published posthumously on the day of his funeral, in which he urges Americans to "stand up for what you truly believe."

Lewis in an essay written before his death on July 17 and published in The New York Times on Thursday reflects on feeling full of "hope about the next chapter of the great American story" amid the nationwide protests against racial injustice following the police killing of George Floyd, saying that "in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me."

"That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day," Lewis writes. "I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on."

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The civil rights icon, who describes Emmett Till as "my George Floyd," goes on to say that "ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble," urging Americans to vote and to study history so this can be the generation that "laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last."

"Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe," he adds. "In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring."

Lewis' essay was published hours ahead of his funeral service, which will take place Thursday at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and at which former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton will reportedly speak. Read Lewis' full essay at The New York Times.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.