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Ink drawing of Civil Rights icon John Lewis
Illustration by Scotty Scott

One afternoon, I was watching a PBS documentary about the early Civil Rights Movement. They showed a clip of John Lewis getting beaten up badly by law enforcement while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, during the Bloody Sunday march of 1965.  

After John Lewis got pummeled by Alabama state troopers, the man did not let hate for those troopers consume him or turn him into a revenge-seeking criminal — as I had for too many years of my life.

Somehow he reached deep down inside himself and used that harmful experience to fuel his fight for civil rights. He did not let negativity or fear tactics knock him from his path. He chose to fight the good fight, peacefully.

I myself have a strong desire to be a better person, and I have learned from John Lewis during my incarceration. Through many self-help groups and three different drug programs, I’ve worked to make changes to my core beliefs. I’ve become remorseful and sorry for the hurt I’ve caused.

John Lewis led an exemplary life. Beyond his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than 30 years until his death in 2020. What a wonderful person.

I, too, like John Lewis, choose to be a model citizen and always do the right thing. I will try every day to be like John Lewis. God rest his soul.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Scotty Scott is an artist incarcerated in California.