Preachin’ to the Chickens: Remembering John Lewis


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The last living icon of the civil rights movement of the sixties has died. With the passing of Rep. John Lewis, one might think this historical chapter in the American story has reached its conclusion. That is, of course, until one considers how many of the same unresolved issues still remain more than a half century later.

When a young John Lewis was marching alongside Martin Luther King, it was reported he was such a firebrand that he had to have the zealous fervor he readily displayed quelled by the older preacher beside him. They both shared the same conviction that their cause was right and just. But King knew the dual role of both preacher and prophet necessary to advance the cause; lest the message fall on deaf ears.

John Lewis’ legendary story is well known. Growing up the son of an Alabama sharecropper, he’d practice preaching to the chickens in their yard; from whence he clearly developed his oratorical style.

It would serve him well, as he matured and went on to devote a lifetime of service as the “conscience” of the Congress; often preaching, as it were, to a flock of chicken-hearted politicians of another sort. But this time with a calmer, constant, steady and unwavering voice.

In 2015, I offered a commentary, wrestling with the topics of racism, the imbalance of power, and the role of the prophetic voice. I asked the still haunting question, what shall we overcome?

Five years later, the same questions that confronted John Lewis fifty years ago remain. As such, I offer  — unaltered and once again as both a reprise and remembrance — this commentary that references the life and work of John Lewis,

To read this reflection, click HERE.

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