CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings and U.S. Congressman John Lewis meeting to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal in 2015. Washington, DC.
Statement of CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings on the Death of Congress Member John Lewis:
I’m humbled knowing I would have never been able to claim the major union leadership role I have today, if not for Congressman John Lewis. His service begets my service.
One of the great honors of my life was speaking before the Congressional Black Caucus with John Lewis in attendance. I talked about Americans of color who would lose their jobs under a pending trade measure. Afterward, Congressman Lewis thanked me and said, “We must protect jobs and livelihoods within our community," and he also stated that he had no choice but to stand with Labor. I was floored then, and still am, by a true hero, a fearless and courageous man, showing such kindness and humility.
I’m from the generation right after Congressman Lewis. We benefited first from the strength he found to march and fight beside Dr. King. We gained from the blood he shed and the broken bones he suffered. We took a step forward because of the rights John Lewis claimed for us and spent a lifetime in public service protecting.
I think the pain of losing Congressman Lewis is especially sharp right now. Because, right now, is when we need his strength, courage, kind but ferocious spirit more than ever.
My children and my grandchildren, the generations coming of age now, face a threat from the very highest levels of our government; new leaders with old hate. Worse than failing to see our rights as Americans, they devalue our worth as humans, and the simple truth that Black Lives Matter both enrages and terrifies them.
John Lewis is gone, and it will take time to shake the sadness his death brings. It is on us now to take the tools he has left behind to not just reclaim rights lost, and those at risk, but to win the full measure of equality and human dignity that America promises, and that we must make sure is delivered.