CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Vigils across the nation and South Carolina are honoring Civil Rights icon, congressman John Lewis. Today marks one year since he died at the age of 80 from pancreatic cancer.
Lewis was one of the “Big six” leaders who organized the march in 1963. He was also attacked by state troopers and police in Alabama on what is now known as “Bloody Sunday.”
The people who gathered at the vigil in Charleston say they will continue fighting for the same causes as John Lewis. That includes making sure everyone has the right to vote.
“So to John Lewis, I salute you, but not just in words, but in deed and I challenge everybody if were gonna salute John were gonna salute him with our lives,” said Thomas Dixon, pastor.
On the anniversary of his death people honored Lewis for his lifetime of service People also called on congress to pass the John Lewis Rights Act. Democrats say the John Lewis voting rights act would help restore protections. This includes requiring jurisdictions with a history of racial voting discrimination to get approval from the federal government before changing voting rules.
“Number 1 honor the spirit of John Lewis and number 2 is keep talking about how our voting right is under attack and that we need to stand up and make sure we get the bill passed and all the bills passed,” said Heather Odom, organizer with the Good Trouble Vigil.
There was about 20 people who gathered tonight for a candlelight vigil preaching the words of John Lewis. Such as “If not us, then who, if not now, then when”.
“Something that a lot of blood has been shed through out the United States for a chance for us to force out opinions about what goes out within our city and state a chance to make our voice heard,” said Charles Lover, activist.
In 196, Lewis led hundreds of protesters from Selma to Alabama’s state capital in Montgomery. They were attacked by state troopers and police. The day is now known as “Bloody Sunday.”
During Saturday’s vigil, people shared personal told personal stories about meeting Lewis and how his legacy lives on.
“I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to meet him one time, it was probably like a 5 minute conversation, I’m thankful not just for John Lewis but for the elders we have in this city,” said Justin Hunt, activist.
Before his death, Lewis requested that on the day of his funeral, The New York Times publish an essay. In it, Lewis laid out marching orders for the Black Lives Matter movement.