By BEN BLOCK
It’s hard to find the words to capture how this loss is processing in my mind, but here we go.
They say “you should never meet your heroes” — work for them?
The above photo was taken back in 2014, the first time I met my political hero: John Lewis.
Just six months after graduating college with degrees in political science and communications, I was lucky enough to find myself in a meeting across from one of the most influential figures in American history (starstruck would be an understatement to express how I felt in that moment).
Hearing John Lewis tell his well-documented story that wintry afternoon on Capitol Hill is a memory I hope to one day share with my children. You could hear the conviction in his voice when he instructed our team to not give up hope, keep moving forward, and go get into some good trouble.
I’ve never seen anyone give a pump-up speech quite like John Lewis. He’d have you smiling at one moment, then crying the next. He’d toss in a goofy line to bring some levity to his otherwise serious remarks, and by the end he’d leave you feeling prepared to run through a wall for the causes you believe in.
His love of the human spirit was unmistakable, and his optimistic outlook for the future was non-negotiable.
As a wet-behind-the-ears postgrad and new to the political arena, I naturally leapt at the chance to shake hands with a titan of the civil rights movement, say thank you, and grab a pic together. Trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism since, I resisted asking for photos after that first introduction, but many fond encounters would ensue.
Without fail, I’d still pinch myself every time this celebrated public servant from the Peach State graced our team with his presence.
Over the past 5 years, Mothership Strategies and the DCCC each blessed me with the opportunity to spend time behind the scenes with someone who I never could have imagined getting closer to than perhaps while completing reading assignments back in high school.
But let me tell you, those textbooks did not do justice to the greatness that was this man — a living legend who seemingly walked the same earth and breathed the same air as the rest of us, yet created progress at a clip that we may never see of its kind again.
When he’d walk into the office, every face in the room would light up. When he’d speak, I swear you could hear a pin drop. He was humble as all get-out. His joy was contagious, his passion inspiring.
He was a deeply good man who was truly in his line of work for all the right reasons. Waking up poised to fight the good fight and help others to the best of his ability became a decades-long daily habit.
To know the congressman was to admire the congressman. He did not demand respect — he commanded it.
We may have lost a light last night, but John Lewis lit a fire in so many young people that his legacy will surely endure forever.
And I for one am feeling fired up and ready to go get into some good trouble in his honor.
Thank you, Congressman Lewis.
REST IN POWER!