With the passing of Congressman John Lewis, our world has lost an extraordinary leader who dedicated his life to freedom, justice and equality for all. He is one of the last great soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement that helped change the lives of Black Americans. For Berea College, we have lost a dear friend and brother who embraced us as kin.
Congressman Lewis visited Berea several times. When Berea College in 2016 was invited by a U.S. House Ways and Means subcommittee to testify on the use of its endowment to support Berea’s no-tuition promise to students, Congressman Lewis was at that hearing and spoke to the Berea delegation afterward, suggesting that it had been some years—1990, in fact—since he had been to Berea College. “I would love to come back. Invite me,” he said.
So invite him the College did, to receive an honorary degree the following year at the 2017 Commencement. In his speech, he imparted his deep wisdom to our graduates about the world that lie before them and their duty to change it for the better. He encouraged all of us to continue to “make good trouble,” for it is the only way to fight for justice, equality and equity. John Lewis was just 25 years old when he marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. He was among the protesters beaten by police, but he was undeterred in his fight for civil rights. He dedicated his life to that fight, making good trouble until his final days.
The Berea College community is deeply saddened by the passing of our brother and honorary alumnus—indeed, our teacher and mentor, Congressman John Lewis. His affection for Berea and its mission and his enduring legacy are stamped on our hearts for all time.
Berea College remembers noted civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John R. LewisRepresentative Lewis visited Berea College in 2017 as the commencement speaker. Read and excerpt of Lewis' interview with Berea College Media Relations Manager Tim Jordan, published in the Summer 2017 edition of the Berea College Magazine: https://magazine.berea.edu/summer-2017/congressman-john-lewis-you-must-act/
READ AN EXCERPT of Lewis’ interview with Berea College Media Relations Manager Tim Jordan, published in the Summer 2017 edition of the Berea College Magazine.