Reimagine the Legacy: Honoring Congressman John Lewis
A Thought Leadership Column for Saporta Report By A.J. Robinson
President of Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID)
July 30, 2021 will mark one year since civil rights icon and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis was laid to rest. For over six decades we recognized John as a man who courageously fought for racial equity and justice in America, a man who uncompromisingly served humanity to move democracy forward. Given all that John endured—hatred, racial brutality, beatings, a fractured skull, and a bout with pancreatic cancer—his life was still a lesson in moral clarity. John lived each day unwaveringly asking the fervent question, If not us, then who…if not now, then when?
We will inevitably remember John Lewis as a Civil Rights giant, but we must also remember his pressing call to action. He urged us to stand up, speak up and find a way to get into some good trouble.
As the one-year anniversary of his passing approaches, I wanted to not mourn the loss of John, but rather reemphasize ways to continue our work in the spirit of one of the greatest drum majors for justice, peace, and equality.
John gave so much of himself to Atlanta. He lived here as our neighbor, as one of us, and should be remembered as a leader who was an Atlantan by choice. Our role is to continue his legacy because John Lewis himself believed in the work of CAP.
These reflections inspired Reimagine the Legacy—a CAP initiative created to encourage reflection, learning, celebration and action, all centered around the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis. Reimagine the Legacy will be held on Friday, July 30. There will be a host of events and opportunities for the community to gather and celebrate Lewis’ legacy at significant sites in the Downtown Atlanta community.
On that day, I am challenging all Atlantans—citizens, corporations and the community at large—to use the day of programming as an opportunity to reflect on the question that he asked us to think and act upon: What legacy do you want to leave behind?
Reimagine the Legacy events include:
REFLECTION: Starting at 10:00 a.m., the community will gather and pause at the John Lewis HERO memorial in Sweet Auburn to celebrate the life of Congressman Lewis and reflect on how we can positively impact future generations. At 11:00 am, church bells will ring throughout Downtown 80 times – initiating a community-wide moment of reflection and signifying the beginning of the observance.
LEARNING: From 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., downtown landmarks will host a variety of educational opportunities to learn about Lewis’ life and the issues that mattered to him most, including civil rights, voter access/voting rights, nonviolent civic engagement, and more.
CELEBRATION: Woodruff Park will host a celebration and opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate Lewis’ legacy and the vibrancy to be found and savored throughout the Fifth Congressional District.
ACTION: On that day, we will recommit and focus on continuing the vital work of carrying out the initiatives and principles most important to Congressman Lewis.
I hope you will join us on July 30th as we collectively work to reimagine the legacy of our beloved troublemaker.