the good name of John Lewis, American patriot

I no longer have to imagine a world without John Lewis as I did when I originally published this piece in July, 2020 – because I have now lived in that world in real time for almost three years. I miss him.


I cannot imagine a world without John Lewis. I knew him first as a Civil Rights activist in the 1960s when I was in college, but I’ve known him longest as a congressman from our neighboring state of Georgia who for the past 33 years fought for social justice issues in the US House of Representatives. When John Lewis spoke, I listened. On July 17, 2020 his voice spoke for a final time as he drew his last breath, but his words will live on for me and countless others across the planet he loved.

Two of my favorite quotes from Congressman Lewis:

“We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.”

“If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.”

Then, this quote from a 2003 Op Ed by Congressman Lewis in the Boston Globe was particularly meaningful for me: “I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriages for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and bigotry.” 

From being beaten by police on Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 to observing the creation of a Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D. C.  near the White House in June of this year, John Lewis was a presence and driving force for good for more than 50 years. I truly cannot imagine a world without him.

“You must be able and prepared to give until you cannot give any more. We must use our time and our space on this little planet that we call Earth to make a lasting contribution, to leave it a little better than we found it, and now that need is greater than ever before.” (quote provided by Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post on June 10, 2020)

One of my father’s favorite biblical sayings was “a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” (Proverbs 22:1)  The name of Congressman John Robert Lewis who died yesterday at the age of 80 will be written in our American history as a good name, perhaps even an “exceptional” one according to remarks by former President Barack Obama as he remembered Lewis today.

I cannot imagine a world without the compassionate leadership of John Lewis, an American patriot. Your journey is over, John – your job was well done. Rest in peace.


John’s job was, indeed, well done. What about ours? Will we leave this little planet we call Earth a little bit better than we found it? That is the challenge we face daily.   Onward.






About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to the good name of John Lewis, American patriot

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    I can’t stop crying over his passing. Your father’s favorite quote was mine father’s as well. He lived it. He taught it to his children. Your father taught it to you. And so we recognize a good name, a great man. We live in extraordinary times and need “exceptional” leaders. To lose one of his kindness, compassion, wit, intelligence, strength… It’s heartbreaking. Sheila, thank you for your sensitive tribute to an American hero.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and I share so much, my friend. And so of course you would share my sorrow along with the sorrow of so many in the loss of John Lewis. When Pretty and I stood at the Edmund Pettus Bridge several years ago, we saw so many reminders of his heroism. Tears come at nightfall, but joy comes in the morning. I wish John Lewis could have lived to see this enemy of the people removed in November.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. donnajune66 says:

    That was beautiful Sheila. The world lost a great man.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cindy knoke says:

    And here we are, left with dictator dump.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cindy knoke says:

    He will be sorely missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A truly fine man. Here’s to the bridge being renamed.

    Liked by 1 person

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