How Lewis, Vivian impacted my life

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 31, 2020

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Dear Editor,

This past week, I’ve been reflecting on how the Civil Rights Movement planted the seeds which birthed a future generation of freedom fighters. Congressman John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian, the co-organizer of the famous March on Washington, taught me how to not be afraid and how to fight for what you believe in, regardless of what is popular or unpopular. They taught me that if you believe in something, go for it. Speak up about it. Take action and stick up for your morals. They are why I, a 16-year-old Black man, fight against racial discrimination and fight for the rights of my people and my community here in LaGrange.

If this time of chaos has afforded us anything, it’s revolutionary thinking. Now, more than ever, is the time to start challenging modes of thinking and examining industry practices to ensure our future is equitable. We must use this moment to take a seat at the table, and if the table isn’t making life better​, we must shake it — or better yet, break it down and build a new one. My generation is blessed with the ability to use technology like the internet and social media to direct how our future unfolds. Our community is blessed with an educational system and teachers who encourage us to develop and use our voice to protect others.

With John Lewis’s death, the torch is now passed to my generation. Why? Lewis was one of the youngest people to attend that March on Washington so his death illuminates ways for young people like myself to create new paths. I challenge us all to remember John Lewis, and certainly Reverend C.T. Vivian, whenever we cast a vote, since the act of voting for people of color wouldn’t have been possible without them.

I challenge not only parents, but also those in my generation to influence their friends to vote. The world needs change. The world needs peace. The world needs a turnaround so as we vote in this upcoming election, we vote in their name. 

Khamani Philpotts