Good Trouble

Lost in a sea of despair
Without you here is unfair
a nation mourns with grief
beyond belief
for our moral compass
A man who encompassed
Limitless optimism and hope

The son of a sharecropper,
With the soul of a preacher
on a mission to liberate
he felt the call to create
freedom in our state
without prejudice and hate
Increase humanities scope

And when that hate did not abate
he would not be satiated or contented
He would not take a back seat;
he confronted a fleet
of demons set loose
while white hoods tightened their noose
On his brothers and sisters

Standing tall, sailing across
a bridge named for a traitor who lost
Whose descendants beat Lewis
They could not cut through his
Indomitable spirit
His bravery, a light that shined
To a nation in need of redesign

In the struggle for equal rights
for all those in sight
he stood beside King
listening in the wing.
He then spoke
words that demanded to sink in
on the steps before Lincoln

Lewis with a refined gate
sang out a clarion call
equality for one and all
We can not wait
For racism to recede
He would not be defeated
"until Revolution of 1776 is completed.”

“Freedom is not a state; it is an act”
that is a fact
we show gratitude to liberty
by standing with thee
against those who seek
A future most bleak
Without our right to vote

We cannot be quiet,
we need to speak
at this unique moment in time
Bear witness to a crime
when inequality is once again laid bare
we know your memory will be there
A light to guide our way

When our children ask
"What did you do, what did you say"
We’ll reply, we stood on the shoulders
Of what John Lewis achieved
We voted, advocated, legislated and initiated
change; that we were not subtle
and that we got into "good trouble.”

The United States has lost a giant. Rep. John Lewis was a moral compass, someone who spent his entire career fighting for equality and justice. Losing such a clear voice and advocate for democracy and voting rights is heartbreaking.

If you’d like to learn more about Lewis’ life, I’d start with the excellent series of graphic novels that he wrote about his life. I used the second volume in my language arts class a few years ago, and my students were entranced by the story. This clip of him (which is making the rounds on twitter today) accepting an award for the series is incredibly powerful. His love for reading contrasted with his inability to get a library card is heartbreaking.

The poem was inspired by Lewis’ life and this list of quotes compiled from USAtoday. Let us continue to advocate for equality and the right to vote for all of our citizens. Call your senators and the senate majority leader and demand action on the Restore Voting Rights Act. It deserves consideration and to be heard. It deserves to a law.

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