LaGrange College has been and continues to be at the forefront of education and equality here in our community. They have hosted countless events over the years, created many outstanding individuals, and continue to give to the community at large. This past Thursday, January 26, La-Grange College hosted another speaker, one who has gained national attention as of late. Congressman John Lewis, a 2006 honorary graduate of LaGrange College, came to speak to the crowd. The decision to have Lewis speak was under much scrutiny from alumni and others because of Lewis’s controversial decision to boycott the inauguration of President Donald Trump and his claims that Trump’s presidency is “illegitimate.” Still, the college persisted and Lewis took the stage at Callaway Auditorium to a packed house with overflow.
Before the Congressman took the stage, Mayor of LaGrange Jim Thornton took the stage to say a few words. Seated on the stage itself were several local high school and college students, specifically some of the Advanced Placement History Students from Callaway High School and children from the Boys and Girls Club. The mayor said that this was what the college experience was all about, hearing from leaders and experiencing new things. President of LaGrange College, Dan McAlexander, also spoke to the crowd to welcome Congressman Lewis. As he introduced Lewis, he spoke of all of his accomplishments and even shared photos from an earlier meeting that the two had taken. After much anticipation, Lewis took the stage.
Congressman Lewis is currently serving in the U.S Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district and has served in that position since 1987. However, his story began when he was a young man in Troy, Alabama. He talked about segregation that he experienced growing up and life on the farm that he was raised on. He continued on to his time he spent with Martin Luther King Jr. and of all the peaceful protests that he walked during the early 60’s.
During the 60’s, Lewis was arrested on 40 separate occasions. He took part in the incident that would become known as Bloody Sunday in March of 1965. Marchers outside of Selma, Alabama were met and attacked by Alabama State Troopers, some of which were savagely beaten. He is a pioneer of civil rights and has been advocating for these rights for decades. He has received many awards, honorary degrees, and various other recognitions over the years.
Lewis’s speech at LaGrange College was bipartisan, elected to avoid any of the issues of current politics. Instead he spoke of his time with MLK and of all the progress that the country has made in Civil Rights since the 60’s. He spoke to the children on the stage and said that they are living in a different world, a better world, proclaiming that one of them could even be President of the United States one day. His overarching theme was love: “Hold on. Keep your faith. In the name of Martin Luther King Jr., keep the faith. Be kind and be good to each other. I say again, never hate, never become bitter.”
Jeremy Andrews Staff Writer