Edmund Pettus John Lewis & The End of the Nameless Face of Hate
The fact that those two things coincide is just one of those things that history does to remind us where we are on the spectrum of things and how, despite our best efforts to ignore them, there are always things that remind us of who we are and the Work we have left to do. I can’t say a lot about john lewis that hasn’t already been said. He was a personal hero of mine and somebody i greatly admired from afar and if i think anything of john lewis it’s realizing that in the time he was standing up to injustice, that there was nothing like this, like what i’m talking to you on right now, There was no way to actually document or record what he and everyone else in that movement was walking into every time. They went out to challenge something to challenge the status quo. John lewis was a man of smaller stature, but he had the heart of a lion. I mean clearly one of the most courageous americans who ever lived, and he was part of and leading a movement that brought massive change in his lifetime in our lifetime to the country that he loved so much and believed in so much that he was willing to Put himself physically on the line for it every time they went out, they would expect to be accosted, beaten, spat upon and honestly, maybe far worse, every single time they went out and when i think of those pictures and those films that we’ve all seen from that Era when when people seek justice, and especially in the 1960s during the civil rights era in the united states, you always see in those photographs and in those film clips, the background faces, like a sea of white of hate filled, contorted distorted faces sneering at uh.
Those who were marching for their civil and human rights and people who were you, know physically accosting and assaulting them right there on camera right there in the pictures, the people pouring hot coffee on them, while while there were sit ins at lunch counters, those are like Nameless faceless extras because they’re just there right they’re, just like the background dressing to it, a mob of rage and anger and violence. So much has changed in the lifetime of john lewis, and people will talk about that for a long time and record it in different ways. But one of the changes that i think is just extraordinary and one of the most important is that because of this because of this device that we have in our hands and in our pockets, those faces won’t be nameless anymore. This device, the technology, is leveling. The playing field of just who’s, on which side we get to see it now don’t. We i bring this up because we’ve seen a lot of upheaval in the united states in 2020 and at every step there have been people brave enough to hold a camera up. Like this unblinking unmoving and to record what they’re, seeing what they’re experiencing and ultimately what they’re feeling so that all of us can understand and have a better idea of what’s really happening in our country and in the lives of our fellow countrymen and everyone who loves. You know freedom and democracy around the world.
Everyone has a name, everybody lives somewhere. The dividing line is very important, it’s, a very important thing right now, not only for people to know which side of it they’re on, but for all of us to know which side of it there are, and that is a true power that we have right now, That everyone who seeks the things that freedom, loving people around the world seek has right now the uh situation in portland right now that is expected to travel to other cities at the threat of the man in the white house. When you look at those clips as well and some of those still images you can see at certain angles, behind the helmets behind the face mask, you can see in the eyes of some of those federal agents there, you can see their eyes spinning. You can see the fear in their eyes. You can see the confusion in their eyes. You can even see, i think, some of the shame in their eyes now that’s not going to be the case for every one of them. Certainly, but if the eyes are the window to a soul, you can see that there’s confusion there. You can see that there’s even cowardice there and i think it’s important to recognize that in john lewis’s time people were nameless and faceless and awful. They were just an emotion of rage and violence, and you know a wall of that that we could just look at and know that was there, but it really didn’t have individuality to it on that side.
Now it does – and i think it’s very important at this time to recognize how important that is not only to look at somebody in the face and see their humanity, but to look at somebody in the face and see the lack of humanity or the confusion or The fear, if there’s any hope, to pull some of those people back from what they’re doing every day, it’s us recognizing those qualities in them it’s not necessary that we do it it’s, not our job, to save anyone from anything or convince anyone of anything. These videos, certainly aren’t, meant to do that and they couldn’t do it if in in any event, but what we can do is tell each other that we’re together in this cause – and i think john lewis lived his life that way as a messenger for a cause. Greater than himself, even though from where i sit, i saw him as a leader as a king as a man who championed that cause in every fiber of my being celebrated that, and i think his humility. What people often said you know he was a humble man.