John Lewis. Photography by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call.
By Marco Pizzorno.
Another flame of civil rights has faded on earth to shine in eternity. An Activist for the dignity of African Americans, Lewis was an example of sacrifice and resilience in the pursuit of “Social Justice”.
In 1963 he was one of the Big Six who participated in the March on Washington for Work and Freedom. Then in 1965 he led 600 protesters in a march which later took the name of “Bloody Sunday” across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. On that occasion, Lewis was a victim of police brutality and suffered fractures to his skull.
In 1977 he went into politics with the Democratic Party, and was later appointed to the Carter administration before being elected to the Atlanta city council. After 1986 he ran for the Senate where he was continuously re-elected. Leader of the movement for non-violence, he became the protagonist of courageous initiatives, such as riding on segregated buses dedicated to non-black people, with the aim of fighting racial policies.
The Human Family loses a pillar in the struggle for civil rights and its commitment together with Martin Luther King, have given humanity a new perception and a renewed awareness of life. Humanity is the daughter of the same sky and breathes the same air and it is the right of every man to be able to live in peace and freedom.
Freedom is also being able to pursue happiness and guarantee one’s rights and dignity, without being persecuted or judged by color, birth, residence, religion or thought.
The difficulties and sufferings for the defense of dignity over the years are numerous . In truth it is appropriate to remember that the Human Family passes through 4 generations of human rights.
- The first generation is called Blue Rights. It included the right to life, equality before the law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, property rights, the right to a fair trial, and voting rights.
- Second-generation is related to equality and recognized after World War II.
- Third-generation is focused on civil and social issues and known as “Solidarity human rights”.
- A fourth generation of human rights is developing new rights, especially in relation to technological, information and cyberspace.
The latter will commit the whole real and virtual world to obtaining fundamental guarantees that are important for the protection of life and human dignity, in that environmental metamorphosis that goes hand in hand with technological progress. The memory of important giants like Lewis must be the support in the difficulties of the new challenges.
The tribute to this great man can only be represented with Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that his life is an example for all of us to know how to live together one day “United also in Diversity” .
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.