Remembering John Lewis

John Lewis was our voice of history, morality, advocacy and action. He literally put his body on the line for justice. For over 60 years, his unrelenting spirit and clarity of purpose insisted that we persist in the fight for change in the U.S.: “Try to be a pilot light and not a firecracker. A pilot light continues to burn…and we’ve made too much progress to go back,” he told CPL’s students in 2017. These words feel most prescient today. To lift up his memory, to lift up his fight, to lift up the choice to live a moral life, we must continue to listen. And we must continue to do the work. As John Lewis urged us, it is always time for ‘good trouble.’

Wendy Sherman signature
Wendy R. Sherman
Director, Center for Public Leadership
Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

John Lewis teaching in the front of a classroom

"Do your best to look out for all humankind," said Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis in accepting his Gleitsman Award at Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership. "Never become bitter; never ever give up. You’ll get knocked down but get up ... You have to pace yourself for the long haul."

Read more about the life and legacy of John Lewis.