With the recent passings of civil rights Leaders C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis, I have enjoyed hearing and reading about the lives of these men. I had heard of and knew a tiny bit about John Lewis but can say, while I had heard the name before, I wasn't all too familiar with C.T. Vivian.
A few days ago a friend and I were watching the tribute to John Lewis including the emotional last cross over the bridge in Selma as well as the celebration of his life at the Capitol in D.C. where his colleagues were able to speak about him, but in essence, he eulogized himself, as they played his own remarks from a speech.
The common and most captivating story (rightfully so) that bubbles up is the revisiting of what happened on that bridge during "Bloody Sunday". While watching the tributes, that same girlfriend text me and said to me "I can't imagine having to live through this. I wonder if I would have been strong enough to keep going." I text her back and said, "I know, right!"
There was then a flurry of texts between us just highlighting some of the key things we were hearing that grabbed our attention. Such as the fact that his head was cracked open by a club. While that is mind gripping in itself and unfathomable how that must have felt, a few other highlighted moments in his life stood out and stuck with me.
One of them being, that as these civil rights activists and foot soldiers began their march and due to the crest of the bridge, they had no idea what was waiting for them until they got there. When they reached that point and finally locked eyes on the uniformed State Troopers, it dawned on me and going back to what my friend said about giving up, this would be have been an opportune time to just stop...but while it can be easy to say, unfortunately, I think in this case it's more, fortunately, they didn't stop.
Sometimes, when faced with adversity, difficult times, and quite honestly, fear, it's so very easy to just bow out. Or, like my friend said as she thought about herself in that situation, "I'd get hit once, and quit". Even myself, I can look back at some of my past experiences or what popped into mind for some reason right now (no idea why) was my participation in Tough Mudder a few years ago, 12 miles, 27 obstacles, I was tired, in pain and wanted to quit and sit the rest of it out...but I didn't...our team didn't, we needed each other to make it through.
While my Tough Mudder experience is NOTHING like having a club meeting my skull or marching for civil rights and doesn't compare...at all, but they share similar components, move forward, and see what happens or give up. I'm sure there are many situations where we have those options and it doesn't always have to be regarding a cause that impacts many, it can be a personal feat.
My mom and I were recently having a conversation and I said it's a good thing that everyone doesn't act on what their first instinct of what fear may present. Imagine if no one ever continued and moved forward to see what was on the other side of anything? While, this can be looked at from a historical component, but even from a personal standpoint if we never moved forward to see what is on the other side. See what can be accomplished.
One thing I have heard that John Lewis would always say is, keep your eyes on the prize. There have been many times when I got into my adulthood and talked to my mom about our struggles, I would ask my mom how did she continue to work two and three jobs to take care of us. How did she not just give up? Her answer would always be, "I had to keep my eyes on the prize."
Keep your eyes on the prize.
My first hero has always been my mom, it's always been the two of us. I feel proud to know that my hero and John Lewis, a hero, to many, echoed the same sentiments to keep everyone going. To give that extra bit of encouragement when it's needed.<