What exactly do you say about a man who dedicated his entire life to serving others? How do you compose the words to describe someone who was truly larger than life? The truth is, there are no words that can truly capture everything that John Lewis embodied and what he meant to the civil rights movement and to Black people in this country. His passing leaves extremely big shoes behind that may never be filled. However, we can all strive to be exceptional human beings, as he was.
I met Congressman Lewis on several occasions and at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, I was seated next to him while we waited for the keynote speaker. It was clear to me that John loved all people. I had the time of my life as we engaged in a four-hour conversation that would ultimately reshape my political career and my commitment to serve. At that time, I had served for 10 years in the Georgia House of Representatives and had just been elected to the State Senate. I was thinking about retiring, but as John and I talked, his emphasis on public service and the need for more leaders to change social justice had a great influence on me. I recommitted myself to public service, believing as John did, that change can happen nonviolently, with respect for each other.