By Troy Vincent Sr.

A generation of visionaries who put their thoughts to action in changing society for the better has passed the baton of equality and justice to a new generation, now more than ever awakened to the challenges of racism, economic and educational disparity, and equality. 

What have we learned? What have they taught us? Having spent time with Congressman Lewis as a friend, a mentor and a brother in the Lord, he based his actions on love, nonviolence and peace as guided by his faith in Jesus Christ. 

He taught me that we need to work together to make lives better. He advised to stand up for something, be committed to something. Fight for something. Do it for a greater purpose, not just for yourself, but for larger society. Give people a better way, a way of peace, of love and of nonviolence. Respect people. Respect the dignity of all people, of all human beings. Be the best you can be, run the race, never give up, hold on to your dream. Despite interruptions and setbacks, never give in, become bitter or hostile, but leave society more peaceful and create a sense of community. 

As we navigate these unprecedented times–environmentally, socially, politically—I am reminded of the words often repeated by my friend and mentor John Wooten, who says in recognizing the sacrifices of those who paved the way before us, “We drink from wells we did not dig.”  

Those leaders who have passed on fought the good fight, had a sense of vision and purpose to make the world better and more just. In their passing, they have placed a mantle upon the generation that follows to engage society. Be a leader, a headlight not a taillight. Be part of a larger family and say “this is what we need to have for the greater good of the community.”We are all one family, not just the American family, but the world family as well.

The history books and the education may not acknowledge their efforts, but the example they have set, the work that they have accomplished, is the legacy that lives in each of us who are drinking from the well they dug. It is a reminder of the responsibility we have toward a better tomorrow.

We can’t thank these leaders enough for their contribution. The example they have set for all cannot be matched. There is an old saying that the man who endures swimming against the stream, knows the strength of it. Let us always remember their endurance and strength; their leadership, tenacity and resiliency, and most of all, their love for others, and their desire to see progress through peace and understanding.  In keeping with their legacy, let us stand for good faith and justice. Let us never grow weary in changing hearts…shaking foundations…and providing hope for the future.