Remembering John Lewis

My dear friend Scott Peacock texted me late Saturday night as I was turning off the lights to go to bed. I couldn't believe it. Google turned up nothing. But it was true. The news was just breaking that we had lost John Lewis. What a loss for us as a nation, and especially for his massive fan base that is the 5th Congressional District. We were so lucky to have him getting in good trouble for us in Washington. I had seen Congressman Lewis speak several years ago at an ADL leadership dinner and had run into him many times around his district where I have always lived. Don't get me wrong -- I was never less than awed by him. But I had the good pleasure to spend an entire morning with him, and that was game-changing. In advance of the Super Bowl, our client WonderRoot had installed dozens of civil rights and social justice inspired murals around downtown and the neighborhoods surrounding Mercedes-Benz Stadium. When we got word that Congressman Lewis wanted a tour we meticulously charted a course. Amel in my office test drove the entire route the night before to ensure that we could do it in the time allotted to us. It was John freaking Lewis and we wanted to respect his time. If you knew him or have spent any time with him you're probably chuckling right now, because within minutes of the start of our time together he was shaking hands with our entire entourage of videographers, still photographers, publicists, artists and media. Our schedule was out the window. John Lewis quite simply never met a stranger. Accessible is a word that has appeared in many of his tributes and it's absolutely something we all experienced first-hand that day. He was so thoughtful, kind and intentional. He took in the art, chatted with passersby and ambled through crowds of constituents making sure to address everyone. I have met quite a few celebrities in my career, and the golden rule of PR is that you don't get in the picture. Like our schedule, that one went out the window as well because I couldn't resist! Here we are, and I will always treasure this memory. If you haven't yet seen the recent documentary "Good Trouble," you really should. It's short and powerful, and he does a great little dance to Pharrell's "Happy." John Lewis lived his life with purpose and conviction. He was beaten and bloodied and arrested more than 40 times, yet he never waivered from the path of passive resistance. He believed in his heart that we all deserve equal rights. As he said just last month to Al Roker in the wake of the death of George Floyd, "We will not go back. We have come too far." That was his challenge. Now it's up to us. RIP Congressman Lewis.

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