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Mourning the Passing of a Civil Rights Icon

Dear Morgan Family,

This morning, we awaken to the unfortunate news of the passing of the Honorable Congressman John Lewis. At a time when our national heroes are few, we have lost a true champion who fought—literally and figuratively—-for freedom, equality, justice and fairness for all. He and his leadership will be missed.

While growing up in rural Alabama on a sharecropper’s farm similar to the one Congressman Lewis grew up on a couple counties over from me, I came to admire him as a man of courage, a man of faith and a man who advocated for what he called “good trouble.” I was inspired tremendously by him, as I know millions around the world were as well.

In January 2009, I was one of the lucky ones to acquire four tickets to the inauguration of former President Barack Obama. However, in order to secure my tickets, it meant having to personally retrieve them from the office of the congressperson or senator who had provided the tickets. Enthusiastically, my son and I boarded a flight in Wisconsin and arrived in our nation’s capital on the eve of the inauguration to get our tickets. Little did we know that there would be thousands of people lined up to get into the buildings to get tickets. As we stood in line, my son noticed Congressman Lewis walking by. Seeing one of my heroes in person, instinctively I yelled, “Congressman Lewis, my son and I truly admire you!” He looked around to see where the compliment originated and then made his way over to engage us in conversation. I listened intently with pride, as my son and I received words of motivation from such a huge figure in the Civil Rights movement. Afterward, he walked us into the House building to get our tickets. It was a truly special and memorable moment.

The next year, when I became Morgan’s 10th President, I learned about the historic role students at Morgan had played in the Civil Rights Movement. Armed with this new awareness, I knew that we had to bring that history to light and there was one individual I wanted to enlist in supporting this effort – Congressman John Lewis. After reaching out to his office, without hesitation he accepted the offer to help the University recognize and celebrate the fact that Morgan students led the college sit-in movement in America. We were grateful to have him visit the campus of the National Treasure.

Congressman Lewis was a man of immense integrity. We will miss his moral fiber and his unflinching fight for America to live up to the ideals that everyone is created equal.

The Morgan community mourns with the nation.

President David Wilson


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