Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis says Mississippi can set an example for the nation of how to improve race relations. Lewis returned Jackson, where he was once arrested during a 1961 protest, to call for more racial and economic justice.
Lewis spoke in the capitol city late last night and issued a call for Mississippians to continue to push to improve the state's culture of tolerance and build on the foundation of the civil rights era.
“If you get it right here in Mississippi, if you get it right here in the south, if you get it right here in America, maybe we can serve as a model for the rest of the world,” Lewis said.
The representative said if Mississippi can improve then the state can be a beacon for other states of how to handle race relations among all races including white, black, Hispanic and Asian Americans.
However, He also cautioned against complacency.
“Our struggle is not a struggle that lasts a few days, a few weeks, a few months, a few years. It is a struggle of a lifetime to redeem the soul of America,” Lewis said.
Lewis says he believes the next big fights are immigration reform and improved access to education.
The 12-minutes speech drew a standing ovation from the hundreds who attended.
Julian Miller listened to the address and says the civil rights era remains relevant but now the focus is on economic inequality.
“That same type of activism that John Lewis experienced that brought about a society that began to tear down the vestiges of institutional racism, now has that same duty to tear down institutions of economic injustice,” Miller said.
Representative Lewis spoke as part of the Mississippi Center for Justice's annual Champions of Justice dinner.