I've met John Lewis a few times, including when he and Coretta Scott King were some of the few big civil rights figures comfortable going public with their support of various fights against homophobic legislation and cultural poison. I never took a pic with him because that's not my way, but every encounter is burned in my memory (also, lol, not my way). I was so proud to meet him. So proud that he received me in his office on Capitol Hill time and again with such absolute warmth and grace. So proud that his kind and generous staffers kept in touch for years and were always on top of everything -- no question, no drama. So proud to be able to contribute to the work and legacy of this dude who helped make my loud-mouthed life more possible in many ways. So proud and grateful for the eagerness with which he contributed to whatever torch I was trying to carry forward.
He always treated me with warmth, with unquestionable solidarity, and like family from moment one. I'm not here to defend him -- he needs no defense. I'm not here to assure anyone I stand with him because if that's not clear you really don't know me. I'm just here as a reminder that we are human. These people, heroes or villains all, are human beings who make choices about who they're gonna be every single day. I'm just here to say that I've seen this man -- not a myth, but a black man like my father and my grandfather who just would NOT take no shorts for no damned good reason, would not and will by stand by for anyone's riotous dehumanization, for anyone's boundless assault whether rhetorical or physical.
Human. And when you hurt one of us who has stood up time and again and again for all of us, well... you think you've hurt all of us, and you have. A little. But mostly, once again, you've played yourself. Yup. You'll see.