Statement of DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO
NEW YORK — As the country mourns the passing of two giants, C.T. Vivian and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, both lifelong champions of civil rights and equality, JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins issued the following statement:
“John Lewis devoted his life to the values of racial justice, equal justice and fairness, and was pivotal in bringing historic civil rights reforms to our country. Rep. John Lewis was a stalwart supporter of voting rights; that’s why it was an especially brutal blow to have the U.S. Supreme Court deny about a million formerly-incarcerated Floridians the right to vote on the eve of his death. Equally devastating, Sen. Mitch McConnell continues to allow a bill to restore voting rights to languish on his desk.
“Rep. Lewis’ tireless efforts to celebrate and recognize Black life by creating a national African American museum — first beginning with his bill in 1988 — eventually led the way to the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. in 2016. As leader of the Voter Education Project in the 1970s, Rep. Lewis championed the voices of marginalized Americans, adding four million Black and Brown voters to national voting rolls.
“In the same way, C.T. Vivian was also a leader in the civil rights movement, as part of the Freedom Riders with Rep. Lewis, and a powerful advocate for equal rights and justice for all. His first non-violent sit-in in 1947 opened the door to desegregating public facilities. We recognize that today’s movement to dismantle the oppressive, racist systems against Black and Brown communities comes directly from their tireless, hard-fought advocacy.
“As we remember these leaders and their lifetime of struggle for justice, rather than mourn their passing, we celebrate their lives and honor their legacies by renewing our commitment to fight for justice by renewing our voting rights and fighting to dismantle the oppressive systems in the U.S.
“We continue on in the memory of these civil rights giants by demanding that our local, state and federal governments invest in our communities, instead of spending billions of dollars to hunt down people of color only to cage or kill us. The greatest honor we can pay to John Lewis and C.T. Vivian is to continue the fight for justice for all and VOTE.””
Contact: Loretta Kane