Nashville Public Library Literary Award Honoree 2016-John Lewis

Nashville Public Library Literary Award Honoree 2016-John Lewis


[music] [applause] JOHN LEWIS: Good morning. AUDIENCE: Good morning. JOHN LEWIS: You look good. [laughter] JOHN LEWIS: Beautiful, handsome, group. I want to thank you for those kind words of
introduction. I want to thank the Nashville Public Library for
inviting me to be here. To honor me with a literary award. Now, I didn’t grow up in a big city like Nashville. Or Atlanta, or Birmingham, or Montgomery. I didn’t grow up in a big city like Memphis. Or Detroit, or Philidelphia, or Chicago, or New
York. I grew up in rural Alabama 50 miles from
Montgomery. Outside of a little place called Troy. My father was a sharecropper, a tennant farmer. My great- grandfather had been a slave. But in 1944 when I was only 4 years old, My grandfather My father, my mother, my uncles, and aunts, Encouraged my father to buy some land. My father had saved three hundred dollars, And a man sold him 110 acres of land. My family still owns this land today. [applause] JOHN LEWIS:On this farm, we raise a lot of
cotton and corn. Peanuts, hogs, cows, and chickens. Now in the state of Georgia, like in the state of
Alabama, We raised a lot of peanuts. I don’t eat too many
peanuts today, I ate so many peanuts growing up, I just don’t
want to see any more peanuts. [laughter] Sometimes I get on a flight flying from Atlanta to
Washington, or Washington back to Atlanta. And the flight attendant tries to offer me some
peanuts. And I say, “No thank you, I don’t care for any
peanuts.” [laughter] We raised a lot of hogs, and cows, and
chickens. I know some of you young students, you like to
eat chicken, right? But you don’t know anything about raising
chickens. Well, On the farm it was my responsibility to care for
the chickens, and I fell in love with raising chickens. Do any of you know anything about raising chickens? Oh I see a few hands. Well but, AUDIENCE MEMBER: (unintelligable) Wonderful, wonderful. Well why don’t we
compare notes here? Why don’t we teach the other people something
about raising chickens? When I was a little boy I fell in love with raising
chickens. But as a little child, I wanted to be a minister, also. I wanted to preach the gospel. So, from time to time when a sitting hen was set. I would gather the first eggs together, mark it with a pencil, place them under the sitting hen and wait for 3
long weeks for the little chicks to hatch. Some of you may be saying, “Now John Lewis,
why do you mark the fresh eggs with a pencil before you place them under the sitting hen?”
Well from time to time, another hen would get
on that same nest. And there would be some more eggs. And you had to be able to tell the fresh eggs, from
the eggs that were already under the sitting
hen. Do you follow me? Oh, you don’t follow me. That’s okay. It’s alright. [laughter] I know you don’t follow me; don’t fool me. So, when
these little chicks would hatch, I would fool the sitting hen. I would cheat on the sitting hens. When I look back, it was not the right thing to
do. It was not the moral thing to do. It was not
the most loving thing to do. It was not the most non-violent thing to do. It
was not the most democratic thing to do. But, I
kept on cheating on the sitting hen, and fooling the sitting hens. I was never quite able to save eighteen dollars
and ninety eight cents. to order the most inexpensive incubator or
hatcher from the Sears Roebuck store. Now I know most of the young people are students. You don’t remember, you don’t know anything
about the Sears Roebuck catalog That big book. That heavy book. That thick book. Some people people called it a wish book. I
wish I had this, I wish I had that. [laughter] So, I just kept cheating on these sitting hens. I
would take the little chicks, put them on a box with a lantern, raise them on
my own. I would give them to another hen. But as a little child, I wanted to be a minister. I wanted to preach the gospel. So along with the help with my brothers, and
sisters, and cousins. We would gather all of our chickens together in
the chicken yard, Like you would gather here in this magnificient
hall, and we would have church. My brothers and sisters were lined outside
around the chicken yard, and we would gather
all of our chickens together. And I would preach. I would talk to these chickens. Some of these chickens would bow their heads. Some of these chickens would shake their
heads. They never quite said, “Amen.” But they tended to listen to me much better
than some of my colleagues listen to me today in
the Congress. [laughter and applause] And some of these chickens were just a little
more productive. At least they produced eggs. But that’s enough of that story. Growing up from there we would visit a little town
called Troy, visit Montgomery, visit Tuskegee. I saw those signs that said, “White Men.” “Colored Men” “White Women,” “Colored Women,” “White Waiting,”
“Colored Waiting.” Go downtown on a Saturday afternoon to the
theatre. All of us little black children had to go
upstairs to the balcony. And all of the little white children went downstairs to
the first floor. I would come home and ask my mother, my
father, my grandparents, my great grandparents,
why? They said, “That’s the way it is.” “Don’t get in the way.” “Don’t get in trouble.” But in school I had wonderful teachers. And one teacher told me over and over again,
“Read my child, read.” And I tried to read everything. We had very few books in our home, but I read
the books. We were too poor to have a subscription to the
local newspaper. But my grandfather had one. And when he was finished reading his
newspaper each day, he would pass it on to us. I didn’t like segregation. I didn’t like racial discrimination. I didn’t like riding the broken down buses to
school. Passing the well built white school, seeing the white students. on their new buses. So I became restless. But in 1955, fifteen years old, in the tenth grade, I heard of Rosa Parks. I heard of Martin Luther King Jr. I heard them speaking on an old radio. The actions of Rosa Parks, the words and
leadership of Dr. King inspired me to find a way
to get in the way. And I got in the way. I got in trouble, but I call it good trouble,
necessary trouble. [applause] So in 1957, 17 years old, but I finished high school. I applied to go to a little college 10 miles from
my home. Troy State College. Now known as Troy University. Submitted my high school transcript. My application. I never heard a word from the
college. So I wrote a letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I didn’t tell my mother, my father, any of my
sisters or brothers, any of my teachers. I told Dr. King I needed his help. I wanted to attend Troy State. Dr. King wrote me back and sent me a round trip
Greyhound Bus ticket. Invited me to come to Montgomery to meet with
him. In the meantime, I had been accepted at a
school here in Nashville, Tennessee, American Baptist College. [applause] I was accepted. One of my teachers, A young man by the name of Kelly Miller Smith informed Dr. King that I was here. I told Reverend Dr. Kelly Miller Smith that I had
been in contact with Dr. King, they knew each
other. He informed Dr. King that I was here. So Martin Luther King Jr. got back in church, and suggested when I was home from spring
break to come and see him. In March of 1958, by this time I’m 18 years old. I boarded a bus, and I travelled from Troy to
Montgomery. And a young lawyer by the name of Fred Gray was a lawyer for Rosa Parks and Dr. King, and
became our lawyer. during the Freedom Rides and during the march from Selma to
Montgomery. Met me at the Greyhound Bus station, and
drove me to the First Baptist Church in
downtown Montgomery, pastored by the Reverend Ralph Abernathy. And ushered me into the pastor’s study. I was so scared, I didn’t know what to say, or what to do. And, I saw Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend
Ralph Abernathy standing there. And Dr. King said, “Are you John Lewis? Are you the boy from Troy?” And I said, “Dr. King I am John Robert Lewis.” And he continued to call me, “the boy from Troy.” [laughter] Now I will never forget, never forget. And I came to American Baptist before I got ready to
leave to come, in September 1957. An uncle of mine gave me a
100 dollar bill. More money than I ever had. Gave me a foot locker. One of these big trunks that you pull open have drawers that you can put things in. Have the drapers that you can hang shirts, coats, jackets, suits. I put everything that I owned in that foot locker, except those chickens. [laughter] And took a Greyhound Bus to Nashville And I’m glad I made the decision to come to this
city. It’s here in this city, this wonderful city, the “Athens of the South,” where I really grew up. So I come here to say thank you. Thank you. Thank those that have gone on for being my teachers, my classmates, my friends, my sisters, and my brothers This community is where I started studying the way of peace; the way of love. Studying the
philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence. So I say thank you, the Nashville Public Library for inviting me to
return to Nashville. [applause] It was here that students, from Fisk University, Tennessee State, Meharry Medical College, Students from Vanderbilt, Peabody, Scarritt — We came here. We studied the way of peace. We studied the way of love. We studied the philosophy
and the discipline of nonviolence. We studied Thoreau and civil disobedience. We studied the life and the teaching of Ghandi. Long before we started sitting in. We had role playing, we had social drama At a little Methodist church. And it was here that we started sitting in, early part of February, 1960. But, we had tested
in in November and December 1959. I had wonderful leader, a wonderful teacher in Jim
Larson. [applause] So I owe it all to this city, and to the academic community, to the
religious community, here in this great city. I feel more than lucky. I feel honored and blessed to be standing here seeing each and every one
of you. Martin Luther King Jr. Would be very, very proud
of this audience. You look like the making of the beloved
community. [applause] Sometimes when we would be sitting-in, and someone would come up and spit on us; put a lighted cigarette out in our hair; pour hot water, hot coffee, hot chocolate on us; pull off– pull us off the lunch counter stools. And we were told over and over again, if we
continue to sit in we would be arrested. We
would be taken to jail. No one liked to be arrested. No one wanted to go
to jail — it’s not a pleasant place. But one day, mid-February, we heard if we
continue to sit in, we would be arrested. We would be taken to jail. And I remember, as a young 19 year old, almost 20. I had what I called an executive session with
myself. That’s when you talk to yourself, but you don’t
talk back to yourself. If I’m ever going to get arrested and go to jail, I wanted to look sharp. [laughter] I wanted to look clean. I wanted to look fresh. So I went Downtown Nashville. And I bought a suit, I went to a used men’s
store. And I bought a suit, A vest came with it. I paid five dollars for this suit. If you come to my office in Washington, or
maybe go through the file of “The Nashville Tennessean”
because the picture was on the front page. “The Nashville Tennessean.” We have a blow up
of the picture in my office in DC. A group of us arrested. And I had on this suit. And I did look good. [laughter] And If I had this suit today, I could probably sell
it on Ebay for a lot of money. The first time I got arrested here in this city, I felt
free. I felt liberated. I felt like I had crossed over, and I have not
looked back since. [applause] I say to each and every one of you, and especially
the students, the young people. When you see something that is not right, not
fair, not just. You have a moral obligation. A mission and a mandate to stand up. To speak-up, and speak-out, and get in the way, get
in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble. [applause] We need, we need the energy, the commitment. The dedication. Hard and necessary work of our youth to lead us to a better place. We need you now more than ever before. [applause] It was the young people, during the Sixties, that led the way. We need you to lead us again. You can do it. You must do it. You must help us create the beloved community
and redeem the soul of America. If we get it right here in our country, maybe we
can serve as a model for the rest of the world. [applause] Now in 1961, black people and white people could be seated together on a Greyhound bus. Leaving Washington DC to travel through Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi. We were on our
way to New Orleans to test a decision of the United States
Supreme Court. I saw those signs. Waiting rooms that said “White Waiting,: “Colored Waiting.” “White Men,” “Colored Men,” “White Women,” “Colored Women.” We had to change that. And 13 of us were selected as the original
Freedom Riders. I made a decision in May of 1961 to be one of the originial 13. [applause] I remember the group meeting in Washington, DC. We were to appear at a training, an orientation. So on May 1, 1961, The night of May 3, 1961, we went to a Chinese restaurant in downtown Washington DC – a short distance from the nation’s capitol. Now, growing up in rural Alabama, going to school here in Nashville, I had never been to a Chinese restaurant. Never had Chinese food. And someone spoke up that evening and said we should eat well because this may be like the last supper. On May 4, 1961 We boarded, some a Greyhound Bus, and
others a Trailway Bus. We left to travel through the south. My seatmate was a young white gentleman. Driving through Virginia without any real
problems. Through North Carolina. We arrived in a little town In South Carolina, Rockhill. We tried to enter a so-called, “white” waiting
room. And a group from the Klan attacked us. Beat us And left us lying in a pool of blood. This is May 1961. Many years later, In the Congress. 2009 A white gentleman in his seventies came to my office with his son in his forties and said, “Mr. Lewis, I’d been a member of the Klan. I am one of the people that attacked you and
your seatmate. Will you accept my apology? Will you forgive me?” His son started crying, he started crying. I said, “I accept your apology, I forgive you.” They hugged me, I hugged them back. And the three of us cried together. It is the power of the way of love. The way of peace. [applause] It is the power of the philosophy and the
discipline of nonviolence.
(applause) [applause] As a nation, the movement is teaching us that
as a nation and as a people, we must lay down the burden of separation, the
burden of division. We must move to create the beloved
community. We must do what we can to come together as one people, as one family. Because we all live in the same house, not just
the American house, but the world house. [applause] Martin Luther King Jr. put it another way, We must learn to live together as brothers and
sisters, if not, then we will perish as fools. The late A. Philip Randolph, the dean of black
leadership during the Sixties, who had the whole idea about the March on
Washington, used to say to many of us… He would say, “Brothers and sisters, maybe our
fore-mothers and our forefathers all came to this great land in different ships, but we all in the same boat now.” [applause] And we must look out for each other, and care
for each other. That’s where we are today. We can build a beloved community. We can tear down the walls. We can build bridges. And we must do it. Not just for ourselves, but for a generation yet unborn. I happen to believe the cause of the movement. That we have a right to know what is in the food
we eat. What is in the water we drink? What is in the air we breathe? That we have to save this little piece of real
estate that we call Earth. for a generation yet unborn. That is our role. We
have a mission and a mandate to do just that. [applause] This planet, this little piece of real estate, is
not ours to hoard and to waste. We’ll leave it a little cleaner. A little greener. And a little bit more peaceful for a generation yet
unborn. That is our calling. That is our mission. Now, I got arrested here in Nashville, yes. Got arrested in Alabama, in Georgia, a few other places. And since I’ve been in Congress, I’ve been
arrested 5 times. [applause] And I’m probably going to get arrested again for
something. [laughter] My last arrest, I was trying to get the Speaker of the House to
bring forth a comprehensive immigration reform bill. [applause] We had brought the bill forth. We would have passed it. President Barack Obama would have signed it
into law. It doesn’t make sense in our country, we have hundreds, thousands,
millions of people living in fear. We need to set those people on a path to
citizenship. [applause] When Pope Francis came and spoke to a joint
session of the Congress, he said, we all are immigrants. We all come from some other place. We can do it. We must do it. I want to tell you, that somehow and some way, if someone had told me when I was preaching to
those chickens and trying to baptize some of
them and save them [laughter] that one day having been arrested and jailed and beaten and left bloodied. after marching across that bridge, left
unconscious that I saw death. That I would live to see the changes that have
occurred in America. And when people tell me that nothing has
changed, I feel like saying, “Come and walk in my shoes.” “Come and walk in my shoes.” [applause] The signs, the signs that I saw. Those signs are
gone. And they will not return. The only place that we will
see those signs today will be in a book. In a museum. On a video. Don’t tell me that things have not changed. We still, we still have a distance to travel. I just heard when I was sitting back there a moment ago that a colleague of mine’s grandson, 15 years old, Was murdered. In the city of Chicago. Gun violence. We have to stop the violence, young people. Some of you probably read, saw on television,
that we had a sit in. on the floor of the house of represenatives. Never, never, ever [applause] Never, ever before in the history of our country that a group of members of congress occupied the will of the house. They came to me and said, “John what should
we do?” Let’s engage in nonviolent direct action. Let’s
have a sit in. And we did. By sitting down, and sitting in, we
were standing up. No one is trying to take away the second
amendment, right. No one is trying to take away your gun. I grew up in a house Where my father had a rifle with a door for
hunting Had a shotgun in the corner, we were told never
to look at it. Never to touch it. I’ve never fired a gun in my life. I’ve never owned one. I don’t need one. We don’t
have bears running around the city of Atlanta.>>And wild animals. So why do we need–
>>(laughter) Can we teach people the way of peace, the way
of love? Teach people the philosophy and discipline of
love, nonviolence? Just love everybody! Love is a better way. [applause] So I say to you, and especially to the young. Stay in school. Get the best possible education. And learn everything that you can learn. And be kind. Never hate. For hate is too heavy a burden to bear. Never get lost in the sea of dispair. Keep the faith. Keep your eyes on the prize. Keep working. And never, ever give up! Yes, never give up. [applause] When I was growing up in rural Alabama, 50
miles from Montgomery. I have an aunt by the name of Seneva. And my aunt Seneva lives in what we call a
shotgun house. Well tell the story in my first book, “Walking
With the Wind” And some of you probably read this story, it’s a
true story. I was only about 4 and a half, 5 years old. I remember so well By 12 or 15 of my sisters and brothers and first cousins who
were visiting this aunt. And an unbelievable storm came up. The wind
started blowing, the thunder started rolling, the
lightning started flashing. My aunt became terrified. She got all of us together And told us to hold hands. And we did as we were told. The wind continued
to blow, the thunder continued roll, the lightning
continued to flash. And the rain continued to beat on us. Tin roof of this old house And when one corner of the old house appeared
to be lifting from its foundation, My aunt would have us to walk to that corner. And when the other appeared to be lifting, we
would walk to that side. We were little children walking with the wind, but
we never, ever left the house. I say to you today, Here in Nashville. The wind may blow The thunder may roll, the lightning may flash,
and the rain may beat on our old little trimming
house. Call it the American house. Call it the world house. But we must never leave our little house pull our house together. Walk with the wind. Walk with the spirit of love. Walk with faith and hope. Hang in there. Hang in there. Be anchored. [applause] Lay down the tools of violence. We can do it.
Thank you very much! [applause] PHILLYS HILDRETH: At this, so at this time, I
would like to introduce each of them. And we will, I’m hoping, time will allow that each
will be able to ask at least one of your questions
and hopefully for round two. Sydnei Everett Sydnei
(applause) Jordan Mallone [applause] [applause] Asyen Taylor [applause] Kayla Pritchett [applause] Brayden DeVault-Smith [appause] They are joined by their teacher and advisor Mr.
Michael Agee. Again, A brief round of applause. [applause] So at this point without further ado, let us begin. And I am going to ask one of you, when I call
your name, please just give us your first
question to the congressmen. And have a conversation. So Sydnei, would you
like to begin? SYDNEI: Good morning. AUDIENCE: Good morning. SYDNEI: And thank you for allowing us to ask
you these quetions. My first question is, what was the most
frustrating aspect that started the civil rights
movement, in your opinion. JOHN LEWIS: The modern day civil rights
movement, in my estimation, Really, or got a lift, with the lynching of Emmett
Till This young, African American boy, Who left the city of Chicago, Came to Mississippi, In the summer of 1955, And on August 28, 1965– 1955, Was lynched. Rosa parks said, on occasion, People asked her to get up and move to the
back of the bus, She said, “I thought of Emmett Till, And I could not move.” I remember Emmett Till. I remember meeting his mother, And if you have an opportunity to go to
Washington, The casket that Emmett Till was in, is in the
new museum In Washington D.C. I’ve been there, And I’ve seen it. He was only 15 years old, I can never forget
that. That was the beginning of the modern day Civil
Rights Movement, in my estimation. There may be scholars and others who differ
with me. PHILLYS HILDRETH: Thank you. Jordan, Do
you have a question for the congressman? JORDAN: Yes. First of all, thank you for coming
here and honoring us. It’s just been a privilege for you to come to this
school, you know, and talking to us, and
everything, and allow us to ask these questions. My question is, what was everyday life like
attending an HBCU durring those segregated
times in the middle of Nashville, TN JOHN LEWIS: Well, it was here in Nashville that
I was attending American Baptist, And later Fisk. The students here, The students, the teachers, the college
administrators They were so helpful I was a very pour student, very very poor, had
very little money. So the first two years at American Baptist, I
worked in the kitchen. To help pay my way through school and I was only 17 years old. I only weighed then, maybe 130 pounds. But I have to wash these big pots, big pans, and they were full of water. But, I did it. To get through school. And the second two years, I worked in the administration building. As a janitor, and I should have said it in front of the president. of– Working as a janitor during the sit-in. I cam across a ring of paper, Packing paper? I ring of 500 sheets. and we needed some paper to– [laughter]>>to type the do’s– to print the do’s and don’ts of the sit in movement.
>>(laughter) And i liberated this ring of paper [laughter] and– got one of the staffers of the school to type the do’s and don’ts So when 89 students were arrested on Feburary 27, 1960, Every single one had a copy of the do’s and don’ts of the sit in movement. And the Nashville Tennesseean reprinted them. PHILLYS HILDRETH: Thank you. JOHN LEWIS: But it was wonderful. To get to know people. Students, faculty members, they became our family. PHILLYS HILDRETH: Thank you. Taezia, do you have a question? TAEZIA: Hello and good morning. I just want to say thank you, also. Its an honor to ask you these questions. And my question is, how did it feel to be the youngest person to speak at March on Washington? Were you nervous, and what memories do you have of the moment. JOHN LEWIS: Well, I must tell you, my speech was a pretty hard hitting speech. And there were some people who wanted to change some of the words, Wanted me to delete some of the phrases. And I remember one line in the speech that says, “You tell us to wait.. You tell us to be patient. We cannot wait, we cannot be patient. We want our freedom, and we want it now.” Or something to that effect. [Laughter and applause] A Phillip Randolph, was the dean of the movement. And he, along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and said there was one or two other lines and they said something like, “John that doesn’t sound like you, can you change that?” “We come this far togerther, why dont we stay together.” I couldn’t say no to A Phillip Randolph. Or to Martin Luther King Jr. So I kept in in the speech. So I was not nervous, I was not afraid. I remember Mr. Randolph introducing me he said, “Now I present to you, young John Lewis. The National Chairment of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.” I got up, I went straight to the podium, I look to my right and I see all these young people from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, blacks and white, young people, students, And I look straight ahead. Then I looked to my left. And I saw young men, white and African American, In the trees trying to get a better view of the crowd. And I said to myself. This is it, and I just went for it. [laughter[ So it came out alright. [laughter and applause] PHILLIS HILDRETH: Thank you. Asyen, go for it. ASYEN: Good morning, and thank you, congressman for coming to speak to us today. JOHN LEWIS: Good morning. Happy to be here. ASYEN: My question is, do you feel as though social media has helped or harmed social movements today. JOHN LEWIS: Oh, I think social media has been so helpful. Look, If we have had social media during the sixties,>>I dont know what we would have been able to do, really.
>>(laughter) You know, we hadn’t heard of the internet. “Well what’s that?” Facebook? Twitter? What? In many places, we didn’t even have a fax machine, we had the old mimeographing machine Cell telephone? And when I was growing up, we didn’t get a telephone in our home until much later. We had a party line. We had to wait for the other person to get off the line. [laughter] So, social media has made a major contribution. To the development of movements. Not just in America, but around the world. PHILLIS HILDRETH: Thank you. Brayden, can you give your question please. BRAYDEN: Thank you for coming. And for sharing your time with us today. My question is, If you could go back and change one political decision you made, what would it be and why. JOHN LEWIS: Well, I’m not so sure Any political decision that I would want to make a change, I sometimes feel like I should have spent more time talking with Dr. King and learning from him. When I had the opportunity. I thought He would be around a long time. He had a tremendous influence on me. I met with President Kennedy when I was 23 for the first time. And June in 1963 and, A group of us met with him in 1963 and it was my last time seeing him. But there were people that I saw, and met, and learned from, Like Robert Kennedy, or Nelson Mandella, or going off to Rome to meet with the Pope. We learn so much and we should take advantage of people who have influenced– people who influence history. And I should have spent more time learning. And probably more time learning from my teachers and professors. So I will say to you, stay in school. [laughter] And learn as much as possible, and take it all in. PHILLIS HILDRETH: Thank you, and we have time for one more question. Kayla will you close us out? KAYLA: Good morning everyone. Thank you for being here, I really enjoyed it. You have faced adversity a majority of your life, concerning times today, what advice Do you have for students and young people when they face adversity. JOHN LEWIS: You know, adversity tends to make us stronger, Make us wiser, Just continue to live a life of service. Try to help others, in spite of it all. I don’t regret being arrested and jailed. 45 times. or being beaten. No one wants to be hurt. no one wants to be left bloodied or unconsious. But sometimes it’s a price we have to pay. To change our society. to help move people to another level. Just do what you can. If you want to be a teacher, be a great teacher. A lawyer, be a good lawyer. Be a good and smart doctor. You know what, when I see police officers, they are wearing a uniform. Always say to them, thank you for your service. When I pass through the airport and see the TSA people, I say thank you for your service. When I see military people with their uniform on, you reckon. But there are a lot of teachers. They dont go around with uniforms And its hard to say, thank you, [applause] You should be able to say to your teachers, “Thank you for teaching.” I visit a lot of schools all over America, in my district and around the country. And I don’t understand how teachers teach. But sometimes I feel like saying we should nominate every public school teachers, and some private school teachers. for the Nobel Peace Prize. [laughter and applause] For maintaining order and discipline. And a great majority of teachers are underpaid. [applause] We can do better, we can do much better. Just encourage people, encourage your parents, and others. to support effort to see that our teachers and others get to do conversation that they should be receiving. I know I am getting in trouble, but it’s good trouble. [applause] PHILLIS HILDRETH: I want to take this time to tahnk the teacher of this hour now, Congressman John Robert Lewis. [applause] MEGAN BERRY: It is great to be here and just cannot tell you how much sitting here and listening to Congressman Lewis and his story and just how much you have done that has shaped our city, our nation, and the world that we live in. And Congressman, it is clear to me that here in this town, you are beloved. [applause] If you have not yet read Congressman Lewis’s graphic novel March, I hope you go out and get it. Because it talks about the power of nonviolent protest that has changed our society. And its message of love and inclusion Being more powerful than hate and division, is a really important time for us, in our nation, right now. [applause]>>Nashville has changed a lot
>>(applause) Since Congressman Lewis and his fellow students marched through our streets. Our Metro Police trainees now are required to go to a class, At the Civil Rights Room and learn from you, And what you’ve done. In fact, last year, our police chief Steve Anderson asked for Congressman Lewis’ file from the 1960’s He wanted to research the Congressman’s role in the Civil Rights Movement and how the police interacted with him. He’s sorry he couldn’t be here today, but he regularly talks to our future police officers about your courage and your leadership. That request for that file led to a very lengthy search for records That as far as I know, have never been published before. Congressman, I’m not sure you have seen these in a long time. So we have something we would like to share with you, can you bring this out. [laughter and applause] For those of you that can’t see this These are his mug shots and arrest records from 1961, 1962, 1963, you were busy You were arrested while you were protesting in justice. You were on the right side of history And the power structure of our community was not [applause] Lets make sure that all of use, are on the right side of history when this time that is written about now, is reflected upon. Because, Congressman, you got into some good trouble in Nashville, And apparently 40+ more times. [laughter] And I hope that these photos remind you of what you have done and the legacy that you have left for us. These wil be in the Civil Rights Room in the Downtown Library for all of us to see, so please make sure you have a chance to do that. And as we begin our book March and our great community read, I know that all of us will have a chance to be inspired by that book as we have been inspired today listening to you I thank you for your message of peace, I thank you for your message of love, and mostly I thank you for your message of kindness. Because it doesn’t cost a dime to be kind. Thank you [applause]

local_offerevent_note October 12, 2019

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