His Truth Is Marching on: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The greatest leader by example since Martin Luther King Jr. John Lewis suffered skull fractures and repeatedly marched into life-threatening situations for the simple, peaceful desire to be allowed to vote, to be treated equally, to hold America to its promise that all are created equally and there is justice for all.
The book is so current that it goes all the way into his last month of life.
Here are some of Lewis' powerful words. He didn't just talk about righteousness. He lived it.
"We studied the whole idea of passive resistance. We studied the way to love. That if someone beat you, or spit on you, or poured hot water or hot coffee on you, you looked straight ahead and never ever dreamed of hitting that person back or being violent toward that person.
"Hate is too heavy a burden to bear. If you start hating people, you have to decide who you are going to hate tomorrow, who you are going to hate next week? Just love everybody."
Lewis lived his lifelong goal: Love, not power. Generosity, not greed. Kindness, not cruelty.
It is hard to imagine the simple request to be served at a Nashville restaurant led the owner to lock Lewis in and turn on the insecticide fumigator so powerfully that he was slipping away toward death, unable to breathe, and the smoke from the insecticide was so strong that people thought the restaurant was on fire. The fire department saved his life.
And yet, before slipping away, Lewis and friends were preaching through the locked door about the fires that failed to harm Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.
This book should be required reading for many reasons:
1) The history of why blacks are allowed to eat at the same restaurants, drink at the same fountains, play major league baseball, vote, have equal access to housing and bank loans.
2) How love and non-violence can move an entire society to do that right thing.
3) How good can triumph over evil.
4) How words AND actions matter.
5) What it means to live a worthwhile life that makes everyone around you better.
6) The biography of a poor boy from Troy whose life stands among the greatest leaders by example.
John Lewis never wavered in his faith and belief in the better angels of us all -- even when the friends he trusted (JFK and MLK) were assassinated and the changes were so incremental or seemed to be reversing in 2020 in his final year of life.
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In a way, this page is my third book, a virtual and public account of the next chapter of my life. My story is not over.