by Calvary Diggs
It’s a little over fifty years ago, and the United States exists in less vibrant tones and colors. No diversity. No rainbows. The atmosphere operates only on an absolute of black and white.
For one child, he first began to understand the diff
erence– one that he’d later describe as ‘inequality’ and ‘injustice’ – when he was denied access to a local library. He’s black. The library was for whites only.
Years later, the child – not so young and naïve anymore – finds a comic about a man named, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The child sees the similarities. Empathizes. Wants to help make the world a better place.
Many years later, he’s in college and a young man.
He decides to take part in the freedom rides. At twenty-three, he marches and speaks alongside Dr. King – his hero. The young man learns to understand generations of pain and hate while enduring a growing list of arrests and hate crimes. He has to exercise grit and determination at Selma as he’s violently attacked by police. And he shows courage and integrity to this day as a congressman working with the rights of others in mind.
This man is Congressman John Lewis, and we are honored to have him deliver a keynote address at the National Forum on Character Education.
As education professionals involved in character education, we frequently ask, “What does good character like in action?” To answer this question, we actively seek real-life role models and genuine examples. They provide us with the inspiration, ideas, and stamina necessary to lead our youth to becoming productive citizens with strong ethical principles. No one embodies these qualities better than John Lewis.