Faith and Politics Pilgrimage continues for the first time since Congressman John Lewis’ passing
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Congressional Delegation kicked off the Faith and Politics Civil Rights Pilgrimage in Birmingham Friday at the 16th Street Baptist Church.
The annual event commemorates the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march of 1965 and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, but one noticeable trailblazer was not there: Congressman John Lewis.
This pilgrimage is the first since his passing.
He was the creator of this historical event, and his presence was sorely missed.
On March 7, 1965, then 25-year-old activist, John Lewis, led some-600 marchers to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
They were met by an angry mob of law enforcement agents who viciously attacked them with Billy clubs and tear gas.
The violent footage sent shockwaves across the nation galvanizing the fight for racial equality.
The day would come to be known as ‘Bloody Sunday’, and 57 years later, a Congressional Delegation commemorated the day, but this time, without their fearless leader.
“John’s with us today. He’s with us today in the minds of everybody who’s participating and he’s certainly, probably the most important reason that we do participate,” said Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer.
Hoyer made the pilgrimage 16 times hand-in-hand with Congressman Lewis, and while his ‘brother’ wasn’t with him Friday, his spirit was, a sentiment felt by all who attended.
“The reason why he put together this pilgrimage congressional delegation year after year for the last 17 years is because he understood that in order for America to continue its march towards a perfect union that all of us have a role to play,” said Rep. Terri Sewell.
And that role includes carrying the torch forward that John Lewis lit decades ago.
“I stood with him on the bridge in the last year of his life when he had a stool and he just went out there and he stood there and you kind of knew it was the last time and everyone was crying out there, and I’ve not been back to the bridge since that day. So, for me that’s really important in his memory,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
“You know…I felt his spirit, but it would have been cool just to see his smile and to hear his voice for him to give us that reminder of the work we have to be done,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin.
This pilgrimage is especially important to Marian Daniel, who survived the Bethel Baptist Church bombing.
“I really miss John Lewis. He was such a great person in my eyesight and having been here with him on two occasions, it really hurt to lose him, but like I said, his spirit will live on forever and I don’t care what people try to do to undo what he fought for, I don’t think God will let it happen. I pray it won’t happen,” Daniel said.
The Faith and Politic Delegation will hold a special ceremony in honor of John Lewis on the Edmund Pettus Bridge this weekend.
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