Rare reminder that true leaders can inspire us

To the Editor: The passing of veteran congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia is a reminder that there is occasionally a rare politician who becomes a hero and inspiration to people on both sides of the political aisle and of varied ideological leanings.

For me it brings back memories of being knocked to the floor by a fellow Marine at Parris Island for defending the right of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others to go to Memphis and join in peaceful demonstrations in support of that city’s sanitation workers.

Later, when hitchhiking through the South, I had a polite disagreement with a lovely southern lady in Montgomery, Alabama, who pointed to a church down the street and said, “That church over there is where Martin Luther King got all his bright ideas!” Little did I know or even imagine that Alabama and the other southern states would have a Martin Luther King Day long before New Hampshire would.

Several years ago I heard Rep. Lewis at a commencement exercise at the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord. I marveled at his recounting of his biography, from childhood poverty to the beatings he endured as a freedom rider through the segregated South in the early 1960s.

As a frequent visitor to friends in John Lewis’s Georgia, I am impressed by the harmony of race relations in today’s South. John Lewis courageously endured the awful conflict that eventually led to that harmony.

JACK KENNY

Amherst Street, Manchester

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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