Opinion: A great legacy worth reimagining

The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who had an unrelenting confidence in the future, left us with a modernized blueprint for kindness and a reminder that we have a responsibility to care for our common home and guidance on how to pass the torch and engage future generations. It is my hope that we not only read about him and celebrate him, but that we use this moment and the days ahead to live up to the legacy he left with each of us.

Congressman John Lewis gave us reason to celebrate his life, but, frankly speaking, it is not enough to revere him. We must instead emulate his actions. We must use his memory to not only seek the moral clarity that resided deep within him, but as an opportunity to reflect on the many questions one of the world’s greatest troublemakers asked his entire life -- If not us, then who? If not now, then when? What legacy do you want to leave behind?

These are questions that must be internalized, personalized, and answered by each and every one of us, regardless of race, political party, religion, or zip code.

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A.J. Robinson

Credit: contributed

A.J. Robinson

Credit: contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
A.J. Robinson

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

At this moment in our nation and history, there are many exciting conversations about the life of John Lewis, all equally as important as the other. But after the dialogue lessens, the commemorative bells stop ringing, the celebrations stop, and in between the national and global crises we face daily, each of us -- all of us, will still be faced with answering those same fervent questions.

John’s latest book, “Carry On, demonstrates the unrelenting confidence he had in our future. More importantly, it provides his final thoughts on the topics most important to him, like justice, courage, faith, mentorship and forgiveness. It is my hope that we not only read about him and celebrate him, but that we use this moment and the days ahead to live up to the legacy he left with each of us.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to know him and call him our friend know that it’s just like John to be thoughtful and forward thinking, even in his final days. He left us with a modernized blueprint for kindness and a reminder that we have a responsibility to care for our common home and guidance on how to pass the torch and engage future generations. Thank you, Congressman for reminding us that the legacy belongs to all of us. Thank you for helping us reimagine the legacy.

May you rest in power.

Over the last year, my team at Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District has spent time reflecting on the organization’s relationship with the Congressman, whose district office was located in the heart of downtown Atlanta at 100 Peachtree Street, and who was a longtime friend and supporter of our work.

We thus felt it fitting and proper that, as an organization known for creating opportunities to convene people in downtown, honoring Congressman Lewis with a community-wide celebration was a perfect way to observe the one-year anniversary of his passing. Further, we sought to create an experience in which people could reflect on legacy, learning, and action in spaces directly impacted by his leadership and vision.

And so, we hope you’ll make plans to attend “Reimagine the Legacy,” a celebration of the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis on Friday, July 30, beginning at 10 a.m. It’s a series of free public programs and events at key downtown venues. Details can be found at: www.ReimagineTheLegacy.com.

A.J. Robinson is president of Central Atlanta Progress.