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A Heartfelt Tribute to Congressman John Lewis

July 23. 2020

“Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year. It is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” —Rep. John Lewis

As tributes to the life of Congressman John Lewis pour in from dignitaries across the globe, what better way to honor this American statesman than remembering his own words? As a 12-year member of the Georgia Congressional Delegation from 2003 – 2015, one of my highlights was the opportunity to meet and work with this icon of the non-violent Civil Rights movement.

While John Lewis was fighting for justice and equality on the streets of Selma and Montgomery, I was comfortably enjoying my senior year at the mostly segregated Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Eventually, we both made Washington, D.C., our home for life, but his journey was so different and far more impactful.

John Lewis was the dean of our 16-member Georgia delegation, which included Senators Chambliss and Isakson. Whether Democrat or Republican, we all stood in awe when the Congressman from Atlanta passed by. It reminded me of the scene from the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” when the black pastor says to Atticus Finch’s young daughter, “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing.”

John Lewis was in Congress for all the right reasons, not for power or money or fame. His 30-plus years of service stand as an eloquent “exclamation point to 80 years of a life well lived. What more has God asked of a man or woman? John you answered His call well!

Congressman John Lewis will be dearly missed by his family, friends, colleagues and students of history from every continent. Unfortunately, in a troubled world, it is far too easy to forget. No matter how many streets are named, statues erected, proclamations made, memories still fade. So my pledge to you, John, is that I will never forget. We will never forget!

Thank you so much for everything but especially for the “good trouble, the necessary trouble.”

Your friend and colleague.

Phil Gingrey, M.D.
Senior Advisor
District Policy Group
Former Member, House of Representatives, R-GA (2003-2015)