John Lewis impressed Germans, and he impressed our workforce on the German Embassy. Right here’s how.
Through the civil rights motion John Lewis stood for human dignity and rights, even at nice private threat. As a part of SNCC, the Pupil Non-violent Coordinating Committee, he participated in sit-ins at lunch counters, a sequence of peaceable protests towards racial segregation at eating places and eateries. He helped manage, and was crushed and arrested throughout the “Freedom Rides”, in protest of segregation throughout journey. As Chairman of SNCC, he organized the 1963 March on Washington alongside Dr. King and different leaders.
As a congressman from Georgia’s fifth District, which incorporates Atlanta, Consultant Lewis introduced his ardour for civil rights, racial and social justice to america Congress. For over three many years, he handled his colleagues and workers with respect whereas advocating for his constituents. Even in his ultimate opinion piece, printed the day of his dying within the New York Occasions, he referred to as on Individuals to face up for justice by means of “good bother, crucial bother”.
His final message to Individuals: “Collectively, you may redeem the soul of our nation,” didn’t go unnoticed outdoors the USA. Nightly information broadcasts and leaders from all over the world repeated his phrases, spoke to his affect, lauded his life devoted to justice, with malice in direction of none. Because the world paused, so too did many Germans.
Within the aftermath of World Struggle II, a battle unleashed upon the world by Germany, our nation was divided between East and West. Town of Berlin, deep within the coronary heart of East Germany, was additionally divided between East and West. Although some thought these divisions have been everlasting, many dreamed of a day when Germany would reunite. Germans may look to the peaceable and optimistic civil disobedience of leaders like MLK and John Lewis for inspiration throughout the Atlantic. The wrestle was totally different. The drive for peace was shared.
At this time, the interval main as much as Germany’s reunification, when a whole bunch of hundreds of East Germans took to the streets demanding rights and freedom, known as the ‘Friedliche Revolution’, the Peaceable Revolution. The non-violent demonstrations of the American Civil Rights Motion and the Peaceable Revolution absolutely share a historic strand.
The bond between John Lewis and Germany turned extra express in 2015, when German then Overseas Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (now German President Steinmeier) visited Atlanta, and Rep. John Lewis. Right here’s what President Steinmeier stated about his encounter with the good civil rights chief:
“Three years in the past, whereas serving as German Overseas Minister, I had the privilege of visiting Martin Luther King’s grave in Atlanta with the good John Lewis. We spoke there about King’s unfinished work and I requested John the place he discovered the energy to proceed it and the way he reconciled his dissatisfaction, certainly his anger, with the deeply ingrained injustices in US society along with his unshakeable perception within the goodness of the nation, in its individuals and future. John Lewis replied that the constitutional mandate “”to type a extra good union”” incorporates the admission that this democracy is at all times imperfect. It’s going to at all times have shortcomings. What issues is motion in direction of this splendid, not the precise state of affairs.”
Here’s a 2015 picture from Atlanta with Rep. Lewis being a gracious host to then Overseas Minister Steinmeier (now President of Germany).
When John Lewis handed in 2020, we mourned alongside Individuals, as did our Ambassador, Emily Haber.
John Lewis believed so deeply in human rights, he risked his personal life to assist obtain them for all.
On the Freedom Rides and on numerous different events throughout the civil rights motion, he met violence with non-violence.
He was not solely an inspiration, he was a instructor. pic.twitter.com/RFlYuNmGfb
— Emily Haber (@GermanAmbUSA) July 18, 2020
We mourn the lack of John Lewis. Through the civil rights motion he stood for human dignity and rights, even at nice private threat.
— German Embassy (@GermanyinUSA) July 18, 2020
The work of racial justice, of ‘a extra good union’ is rarely full, as Rep. Lewis informed our President. We miss John Lewis, however have a good time the time we shared with him on this earth.
This weblog is a part of our bigger sequence for Black Historical past Month. Throughout Black Historical past Month, we’re not solely highlighting Germans of African descent (see our blog here), but in addition black Individuals who’ve impressed Germans throughout the Atlantic, and throughout the years.
By William Fox, German Embassy