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Lexington community activist remembers Congressman John Lewis

Published: Jul. 18, 2020 at 10:11 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) A Lexington community leader remembers what the late Congressman John Lewis taught him.

P.G. Peeples, the president of the Urban League of Lexington, has been involved in the civil rights arena for decades, like Lewis was. He said his work is inspired by the decades of Lewis’ activism that he witnessed.

Lewis spent most of his 80 years fighting against racial inequality, a fight Peeples said was an uphill battle.

“You never saw him lose his cool, no matter what happened,” Peeples said. “That takes discipline because I know there were times where he was just bothered, I can speak to that doing civil rights work myself for 50 years.”

Peeples remembers the congressman stopping to speak with a group of young people visiting Washington D.C. with the urban league.

“He said ‘No, I’m going to spend more time here with these kids.' A congressman, who took personal time, to spend with some young kids from Lexington? I think that speaks volumes,” Peeples said.

Peeples calls Lewis an icon and a giant in the civil rights arena with a commanding yet humble presence.

“His humility was something that I always watched and admired because I just saw how far he went with that character trait,” he said.

Peeples said he never lost his calm and paid the price to continue a conversation we’re still having today.

“Just think about the physical assaults he had to endure, Bloody Sunday on the bridge, when he was knocked unconscious,” he said.

Peeples said he knows Lewis was ready to pass the baton onto the future generation of activists.

“I know what he would say to the young people is, ‘You’ve got to be committed to this and that you’re going to stay the course, because civil rights change does not happen overnight.‘”

One of Lewis’ last pieces of legislation was a voting rights bill. Peeples says leaders like himself hope it’s addressed to both combat voter suppression and in honor of the late lawmaker.

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