Norton on Her Memories of John Lewis as a Colleague in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Jul 24, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released excerpts today of Norton’s remarks on the House floor about her memories of Representative John Lewis as a colleague in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

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John and I were elected to the House of Representatives about the same time. Actually, he was elected a couple of years before I was. But we were colleagues before either of us could have hoped to become Members of Congress. We were kids together in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youth arm of the Southern civil rights movement.

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It is almost impossible to describe the risks John took in the more than 40 times he was arrested, because, today, we are so used to civil disobedience. People right now are lying down on Pennsylvania Avenue after the George Floyd killing.

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SNCC would kneel and assume other nonviolent postures. On the other side were not counter- demonstrators. On the other side were no other people who were confronting us nonviolently. On the other side were the police leading white mobs. They were befuddled by the tactics of SNCC and the civil rights movement. Because when you kneel and are nonviolent, they didn’t quite know what to do with you or about you.

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John, of course, will always be remembered as a Member of the House of Representatives, but as I close, I must say it will be difficult even for John to have done more in the House than he did in the civil rights movement, to do more in Congress than he did for his country.

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