Thursday, July 30, 2020 - by Rep. Yusuf Hakeem
Congressman John Lewis, Making Good Trouble
What kind of man was Congressman John Lewis? What made him stand out among his peers? It was not his physical statue, but we all took notice of his presence. Congressman John Lewis was the son of a sharecropper from rural Alabama who became rich in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It appears this was where he found himself, his purpose in life, sharing the gospel of Christ through intentional acts of love for all people. He was determined not to let anybody turn him away from his calling. He preached the word of God as a child and spent a lifetime allowing God's power to shine through his actions and deeds. He walked the walk of a servant. You did not have to guess where he stood on freedom and justice. Right or wrong, he would speak to you with truth and kindness. His tone and manner made him like an open book always ready, willing, and able to impart knowledge and understanding with a dose of wisdom. He understood that knowledge without wisdom could be dangerous for any of us. What kind of man was congressman John Lewis? He was a man of his time and exactly what the world needed - a visionary, activist, and protester who got into "Good Trouble."
Nashville, a place that many considered the buckle of the bible belt, is were John Lewis attended American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University. He completed studies at both institutions, and it was on the streets of Nashville where he began his life as an activist leader. It is through life experiences where he sharpened his skills of organizing, strategizing, and implementing plans of civil disobedience to Jim Crow laws and systemic racism in places like diners were Black people could not sit and be served. During the era of the 1950s and 1960s, Nashville lived up to the image of a southern bastion of oppression to people of color, yet John Lewis would not stop or be deterred from his life's work of serving God and promoting freedom and justice for all people. He demanded that, as a nation, we look at ourselves and submit to the Angels within us.
Congressman John Lewis was a faithful servant leader, and his ego did not get in the way of service to humanity. He believed in "We the People," knowing the power of free people. John Lewis volunteered for the Civil Rights Movement right out of high school at the age of 17; he became inspired by the work and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Ralph David Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, and so many others during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In meeting John Lewis for the first time in the mid-1950s, while they both were in Montgomery, Al., Dr. King said, "I want to meet the Boy from Troy," referencing John Lewis, who was known as the boy preacher from Troy, Al.
As an avid servant during the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis was jailed over 40 times in his life, beaten and blooded many times, including "Bloody Sunday" March 7, 1965, while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. A Pivotal Moment in the Civil Rights Movement for freedom and justice in America, particularly for Black people. On that day, non-violent marchers were beaten by Alabama State Troopers with Billy-Clubs, some with barbed wire wrapped around them, and some marchers being run over by the Trooper's horses. John Lewis left with a bloody body and a fractured skull. This ordeal did not deter him from his calling of service to God or the Civil Rights Movement. He would not stop!
John Lewis was also one of the original 13 Freedom Riders who traveled throughout the south. A region of the country where hatred, fear, and terror ran deep against Black people for everyone's right to sit anywhere on a Bus. Why would he not stop or change the way he advocated for freedom and justice? Because of his faith in Christ and his unwavering commitment to non-violence as a way of life, not as a political tactic. He could see beyond where he was in the 1950s to where we could be if people of all stripes came together for the good of humanity, and service to others. John Lewis only feared Christ, so why would he stop.
As a result of his fearlessness, the racist Jim Crow system of America saw John Lewis as a threat to their status quo on issues like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a piece of Federal Legislation that he saw as one way to non-violently help America live up to its Ideals of freedom and justice for all citizens, public accommodations, and Black Lives Matters. His elders spoke of him as a man who did not bite his tongue. He told the truth to the powers that control systematic racism and the powerful about the errors of oppression and inequality.
Even though he was called everything but a child of God, by people who deemed themselves as true children of God, he saw to forgive and love them. He was a man so committed to loving all of God's children, because it was his Christian nature. That was just who he was. His role was to embrace all people through faith, regardless of status or skin tone. The Life of Congressman John Lewis is a study of sacrifice for the greater good. In part, for Americans to live up to their ideals, "All Men are Created Equal and Endowed with Inalienable Rights." He sacrificed his life through the Civil Rights Movement's service and struggles, and the halls of Congress were contempt of a person can be masked by the decorum of that body's power and its leaders.
Congressman John Lewis was a robust and unrelenting force for good all his life, not yielding to man's will or the trappings of power. He carried the Baton of Hope to future generations, that inspired this nation through some of its Darkest History, and turbulent times. Not bad for the son of a sharecropper in rural Alabama.
Job Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant, Job Well Done!
In a major win for voting rights in the State of Tennessee, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle, ruled that the state's limits on absentee voting during the pandemic constitutes "an unreasonable burden on the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution." Her ruling mandates that the State of Tennessee must give all eligible voters the option to vote by mail in the upcoming 2020 elections because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the following day the State of Tennessee filed a motion to stay the Chancellor's order along with a motion for interlocutory appeal, which would allow a direct appeal to the Court of Appeals before the Chancery Court makes its final ruling on the injunction. Following the State's motion to stay, Chancellor Ellen Lyle ruled that the State of Tennessee must comply with the court's order and instructed the state to fix its absentee voting request forms. Anyone who deems COVID-19 a risk to their health or others will be able to request an absentee ballot. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that it will not block the order allowing mail-in ballets to all eligible voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First Time Voters: It is unclear at this monument whether first time voters will be able to vote absentee. In the Chancellor mandate, she states that "any eligible Tennessee voter". However, in her order, she does not specifically state first time voters.
Update: Tennessee election officials plan to enforce the requirement that first-time voters who register by mail cast their ballot in person
On election day, if there is a dispute on your ability to vote you can request and cast a Provisional Ballot.