Local leaders reflect on John Lewis’ legacy

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John Lewis left an indelible legacy on the country’s fight to affirm the civil rights of all Americans. East Valley NAACP President, Roy Tatem Jr. and Black Mothers Forum Interim Director, Debora Colbert spoke with us about Lewis’s legacy and what he leaves behind.

As a young child, Colbert encountered Lewis at her church in Chicago where he had assisted her minister. There Colbert learned the importance of voting, equality, and civil rights from Lewis. Since then Colbert has been involved with civil rights and equality for over 50 years. Lewis’s legacy has left a mark of resilience to keep pressing according to Colbert which she hopes to carry on.

For Tatem, his encounters with Lewis took place at conferences, fraternity, and campaign events. According to Tatem, Lewis is the blueprint for young people. At a young age, Lewis became a figure of the civil rights movement and decided to run for office. His activism led to him being elected to the House of Representatives. Tatem says Lewis’s legacy will be a model for many young activists who aspire to run for office.

One of Lewis’s most notable works in his time in Congress was the Voting Rights Act. In December of 2019, the House passed a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act by introducing a new formula that would require preclearance for 11 states. Currently, Congress is working on passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act on the Senate floor. Colbert says it’s important that the act is passed so voters are not suppressed. Calls to pass the bill in honor of Lewis are circulating, as democrats hope to get the approval of the republicans.

Lewis’s legacy will be remembered by many who hope to carry on his historic activism.




Roy Tatem Jr., President, East Valley NAACP and Debora Colbert, Executive Director, Black Mothers Forum

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