When You Pray Move Your Feet. Congressman John Lewis 1940 – 2020
From John Lewis, The Spirit of History, an interview recorded June 5, 1998, in Atlanta, Georgia, US with Paula Gordon and Bill Russell, Interviews and Conversations with People Leading from the Edge:
Young John Lewis was one of the original members of the Nashville Student Movement and the first president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC.) He was arrested dozens of times in nonviolent demonstrations across the South, was on the first Freedom Ride, a leader of the 1963 March on Washington and he led the bloody Selma march which sealed passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. His recently published autobiography, Walking with the Wind, is a memoir of the Civil Rights Movement.
Mr. Lewis believes The Movement showed that violence is not able to stop nonviolence. Thousands of simple, ordinary people were the key. They didn’t have resources. They followed the wisdom of an old African proverb which says, “When you pray, move your feet.” In marches and sit-ins and stand-ins, protesters prayed with their feet. In so doing, they saved America’s soul.
Congressman Lewis continues to believe in nonviolence. He continues to believe the Spirit of History calls people, as it called him. When that Spirit calls, he says, you have to follow. And you’d better be prepared. No one, he insists, can sit on the sidelines.