You are a Light

By Marilu Isabelle.

‘You are a light’ (Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, John Lewis, 2017) - the first four words taken from a powerful quote by legendary U.S. Civil Rights activist John Lewis.

Lewis met Dr King at the young age of 18 years and continued to devote his life to racial equality and justice until his passing last year at age 80. As we near the end of Black History month in the U.S., it’s a time to reflect on how we continue to embed an informed understanding of Black history and use it to actively challenge racial injustice in our daily lives.

Whether you’re a long-standing activist or beginning to learn more about Black history and inequality, here are 3 thought-provoking quotes from Lewis to help keep you inspired on your journey:

1. ‘You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light.’

(Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, 2017).

Whether we observe or personally experience racism, bias or prejudice, this quote helps us to keep in mind the importance of our individual rights and the rights of others.

A key feature in being anti-racist is being able to ‘sit with discomfort, putting courage, compassion and vulnerability over comfort’ (Greater Good Science Center Berkeley 10 Keys to Everyday Anti-Racism).

2. We cannot give up now. We cannot give in. We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize”

(Taken from the speech given during the Selma to Montgomery marches, 1965).

As there is still a long way to go before we see effective change against racism in all aspects of our society, it helps to be reminded of the need to persevere and stay determined.

3. “I believe it is possible to come to that point where we create a sense of oneness”

(Interview with National Geographic when asked whether a post-racial society was possible).

As the youngest and last survivor of the “Big Six” civil rights activists, a statesman, a senator and congressman; Lewis dedicated his entire life to creating a more fair and just society. This quote serves as a hopeful and positive reminder of our destination towards greater racial equality and justice.

Learn more about Lewis’ inspirational life in his TEDTalk interview