John Adams and Thomas Jefferson– a child rapist– both died July 4, 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The two founding fathers were so eternally united in their quest to birth a new nation that they died within hours of each other. On July 17, 2020, two warriors united in their quest to perfect the union that Jefferson and Adams birthed, expired. Rev. C.T. Vivian and John Lewis were two souls who shared a passion for the liberation of Black people.
Both men were beaten for Democracy, literally. Vivian tried to escort a group of Blacks inside a Dallas County, AL courthouse to register to vote. Sheriff Jim Clark punched Vivian in the face so hard that he broke his hand. Vivian replied to the punch, “We’re willing to be beaten for democracy, and you misuse democracy in the street!” A beating in the street was also very familiar to John Lewis, who had his skull cracked on a Selma, AL street. Like Vivian, Lewis received that beating while advocating for voting rights. The beatings these two men received in pursuit of voting rights helped lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That piece of legislation, ultimately, took John Lewis to the halls of Congress. Vivian, however, stayed much closer to the streets.
When the City of Atlanta turned the water off at Morris Brown College in 2008, it was Vivian who initiated the “Yes, We Care” campaign. That campaign resulted in the Atlanta community donating in excess of $500,000 to the school, which ultimately helped to save the institution. Morris Brown College is a Historically Black College that happens to be in Atlanta, in the very same district John Lewis represented for decades. It was right that these two men, united in their sacrifices, struggled together and ultimately, departed together, in peace.