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Salt Lake NAACP president honors legacy of Rep. John Lewis

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks during a memorial service as the flag-draped casket of Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., lies in state at the Capitol Rotunda on Monday, July 27, 2020, in Washington. (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — Americans are paying their respects to a civil right icon who was the first Black lawmaker in Congress to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

Salt Lake NAACP president remembers John Lewis

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake City branch, joined Boyd Matheson on Inside Sources to honor the legacy of Rep. John Lewis, (D-GA), who died at age 80 on July 17, 2020 after serving in Congress for more than three decades.

“Give us your reflection on the life of someone who was a bridge builder and someone who was willing to have those hard conversations,” Boyd said. 

“Reflecting on the life of Congressman Lewis makes me think about all the things he went through. He knew personally Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And he wanted to make sure that he lived his life in the way that his mentor had taught him and that was in a non-violent way,” Williams said.

“He wanted to make sure that his voice was being heard . . . and that he was doing things to make a difference.”

The bridge march of 1965

Lewis at age 25 led a march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to Montgomery. When they crossed the bride, him and other marchers were attacked by local police with clubs and other violent tactics. Lewis’ skull was cracked. The violence shocked the nation and is considered on of the catalysts for President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.

On Monday, the House passed a proposal by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), to rename to Voting Rights Act after Lewis.

“One of the things that I would urge people to do is let’s get behind the Voting Rights Act,” Williams said. “That meant so much to Congressman Lewis to make sure that everybody registered and that everybody voted.

“Here locally, that’s what we’re doing. We’re sending out bookmarks. We’re talking about the census. We’re talking about voter registration,” Williams said. “We’re making sure that his life was not in vain. That people were listening. And people do understand that his urgency to make sure that people voted.

“The Voting Rights Act, of course, it was gutted — Section 5.1 And we have been working on that all these years. It would have been so great for him to have seen the progress in making sure that vote passed. We’re hoping that the Senate will take that up,” Williams said.


Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 11:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.