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I wish to acknowledge the recent passing of several pivotal leaders of the Civil Rights Movement: Representative John Lewis, Reverend Joseph Lowery, and Reverend Dr. C.T. Vivian. Together, these three men fought for fairness, justice, and equality for Black Americans—and inspired countless others to join them in their important work.
Rep. Lewis dedicated his life to the cause of civil rights. He was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and in his capacity as SNCC chairman participated in the 1963 March on Washington as the event’s youngest organizer and speaker. He went on to serve Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives for over thirty-three years. Rep. Lewis recounted his life in activism and politics in the graphic novel series March (which won the National Book Award) and Run; his life will also be explored in Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham’s forthcoming His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope. Public tributes to Rep. Lewis continue to pour in from people of all walks of life, including many colleagues of both parties in Congress.
Rev. Lowery was a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, and co-founded with Dr. King the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement. Rev. Dr. Vivian also worked closely with Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. We were honored to host him at HCC in 2018, in an event organized and moderated by our own Sharoll Love. While on campus, Rev. Dr. Vivian participated in several events and dialogued with students and the larger Harford County community. (Photos from this memorable and special evening can be found here.) Like Rep. Lewis, Revs. Lowery and Vivian devoted their entire lives to working on issues of civil rights and social justice.
It is impossible to overstate the impact of these three great men on the Civil Rights Movement, and on America’s social progress over the past sixty years. As we see a renewed movement for justice and equality nationwide, we can recognize the spirit of Rep. Lewis, Rev. Lowery, and Rev. Dr. Vivian in this new generation of activists.
Though I am saddened by the loss of these American heroes, I am heartened to see the many ways in which their legacy lives on, particularly among our young people. As an educator, I take particular comfort in the words of Rep. Lewis, who said, “You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light. Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant.” May we continue to learn from the example of John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, and C.T. Vivian—and may we continue to strive, as a campus community, for equity and inclusion for all.
Dr. Jacqueline Jackson
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