John Lewis — “what did you do?”


Photo of John Lewis (1964)

Behind every Moses is an Aaron. John Lewis was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Aaron. If Dr. King was the face and voice of the civil rights movement, John Lewis was, and still is, its soul.


News of his Stage IV pancreatic cancer was a sad day that calls for national reflection, thanksgiving for his witness, and prayers of intercession that “his suffering be minor and his transition easy.”

Pancreatic cancer is no stranger to the seven old seminary friends who gather annually for friendship and study. Steve Shoemaker and Wayne Boulton pancreatic cancer diagnosis preceded John Lewis. We are down to four and counting, but the memories of walking from Selma to Montgomery in March,1965 did not pass with Steve and Wayne; they are alive and fresh among the busload of seminary students who rode the bus from Chicago to Selma, AL to walk with Moses (Martin Luther King Jr) and Aaron (John Lewis) across the Pettus Bridge to Montgomery.


John Lewis knows that some cancers metastasize. America’s “original sin,” i.e., deep-rooted and omnipresent, never quite goes away. It may appear to be in remission. It may hide awhile, but it is always there.


Day after day — hour by hour, now — the calendar and clock are turned back against the dream. But there is different calendar and clock beyond the control of white nationalism. Until his last breath, John Lewis will bear witness to a better life on the other side of America’s original sin. It falls to all of us afflicted to walk across the bridge Pettus Bridge with confession resistance, and joyful hymns of praise.


Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
Return, ye sons of men:
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

— Isaac Watts

What did you do?” – Congressman John Lewis. “Come on, now. We can do better than this!” – Congressman Elijah Cummings (RIP), Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Gordon C. Stewart, Feb. 22, 2020.

7 thoughts on “John Lewis — “what did you do?”

  1. Pingback: A Memoir: Selma to Montgomery | Views from the Edge

  2. I took the train to Montgomery. Illinois Central. I remember the three Army National Guard Officer with bayonets fixed and their pointy ends against my sternam. I remember Jerry Hazelrigg’s admonition. “If you find yourself in trouble and go to a high steeple church expecting help You Will Be Killed.” I remember returning and speaking at Lawndale Presbyterian (Clarence Lennon, Pastor) I said something to the effect “the parable of the Good Samaritan to the Alabama Black is a myth. The victim got out of the ditch and picked each other up.” An ancient woman approached me after and said, “I hated you untill this morning.” I have a friend in Norfolk who took her children to Selma in 15 when Obama and Lewis spoke. The KKK was leafleting the city.

    We now live adjacent to Baltimore City. 500,000 people have fled from its peak. Segregation ordinance of 1910, redlining (still) Brown vs Board of Education 1954 White Flight. Of the 150 public schools 12 have water students can drink. The 138 schools have lead pipes. The Republican Governor Larry Hogan says a program supported by the Kirwin Commission will bankrupt the state. 35% of the students who graduate can not read at a 4th grade level. One third of that number are incarcerated in Maryland Prisons. The struggle against Structural Racism continues. The struggle has just begun. Even though the Constitution of Maryland requires funding for every school district in accordance with the needs of the students.



    James B Haugh

    On Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 8:22 AM Views from the Edge wrote:

    > Gordon C. Stewart posted: ” MARTIN LUTHER KING AND JOHN LEWIS Behind every > Moses is an Aaron. John Lewis was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Aaron. If Dr. > King was the face and voice of the civil rights movement, John Lewis was, > and still is, its soul. PANCREATIC CANCER AND A MEM” >


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s