The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Statement on the Passing of Congressman John Lewis

The entire The Andrew Goodman Foundation community is deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman John Robert Lewis, an American treasure and dear friend of AGF. A hero of the Civil Rights Movement and a lifelong activist, John was the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a Freedom Rider, a speaker at the March on Washington, a leader of the Selma-Montgomery marches, the U.S. Representative of Georgia’s 5th District for 33 years, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also a beloved member of The Andrew GoodmanFoundation’s Advisory Board.

To most, his litany of accomplishments seems larger than life—iconic—but to John, it was driven by one simple mantra: to get in “good trouble, necessary trouble.” Always dedicated to speaking up for those who faced discrimination and standing on the right side of history, John knew that getting in trouble was good and necessary when laws and social codes were not only unjust but in fact that way by design. His philosophy, perseverance, and optimism have been a compass for the 80 years we have been fortunate enough to have him among us.

As the Chairman of SNCC, John coordinated the Freedom Summer of 1964, where 20-year-old Andrew Goodman joined other college student volunteers from all over the country to register Black Americans to vote. In 1965, when John led marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on what became known as Bloody Sunday, he was only 25 years old. Though brutally beaten within an inch of his life by Alabama State Troopers, John never gave up in his struggle for freedom. John and Andy’s pursuit of justice—and Andy, James, and Michael’s ultimate sacrifices—soon led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

John leaves behind an inspiring, incredible legacy, especially for young people. Like John, at The Andrew Goodman Foundation, we believe that young people have the potential and the power to make good, necessary change, just like John did as a young organizer. A true model of activism at any age, John has also given us a powerful example to follow. Former President Barack Obama, who honored John with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said it best: “We now all have our marching orders—to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.”

Though we mourn John Lewis’s monumental loss, we can and must keep his legacy alive by living it every day.