The Gantt Report
By Lucius Gantt
People of goodwill all over planet earth are mourning the passing of two civil rights legends.
Congressman John Robert Lewis died at age 80 after a battle with cancer and Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian died at age 95 of natural causes.
Television news channels and networks will be broadcasting sad story after sad story by some people who claimed to have known both of the Black heroes but never took a freedom ride, never participated in a bloody march, never registered one Black voter and never stood up and spoke out against racist oppression and economic exploitation.
Any minute now, elected officials in Alabama, Tennessee and possibly in Georgia will rush to change a street name to the names of Lewis and Vivian and they will campaign to Black people about their symbolic gestures instead of fighting the powers that be like the Black people, like Lewis and Vivian, that put their lives on the line for most of their adult lives.
My African faith tells me our two civil rights icons have taken their final journeys to The Land of Plenty but their spirits will never leave anyone that truly loved and cared about them.
I respected those guys. Their contributions to our communities, our churches, our government and other areas cannot be imitated and will never be duplicated!
Lewis and Vivian were righteous and good, but they are dead.
They had huge roles on the stage of Black life but we now need other actors. We need modern actors. We need better actors.
2020 is, in many ways, a lot different than 1950 or 1960.
The men I write about in this week’s Gantt Report column never changed their social and spiritual beliefs and practice of non-violent civil disobedience and societal change.
However, I’m not with that. I believe we should use Dr. King’s, Congressman Lewis’ and Dr. Vivian’s tactics to achieve Black progress but we should also be prepared to fight for our rights using any and all other means we feel are necessary!
I expect a large number of candidates to seek to replace Rep. Lewis in Congress. I expect the future Congressional race to be politically bloody and all of the bad things that can be said by opposing candidates will be said.
It will not disappoint me if one or more white candidates seek to represent the district that includes Buckhead, one of Atlanta’s richest neighborhoods.
Hmmm? Perhaps Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp will appoint the Trump endorsed Black female Republican that announced her intent to run for the Lewis seat long before his death.
It’s really not enough time for all qualified candidates to make a serious run for office so Kemp could quickly appoint someone and have an election next year, possibly.
If you don’t know, Atlanta voters have historically low voter turnouts. Why? Because Black voters think politicians in the “city too busy to hate” are who the voters think they are.
They think Black elected officials are controlled by whites like Arthur Blank and the white owners of Chick-Fil-A, Waffle House and other major corporations. Black elected officials and candidates in Atlanta think Black political professionals are inexperienced, unqualified and inferior and prefer to be robbed and bamboozled by white political professionals and vendors.
And, Atlanta voters are tired of false political promises from elected officials that you can’t talk to, meet with or work with on Atlanta problems!
Congressman Lewis often talked about how non-violent civil disobedience was “good trouble” but the good trouble did not eliminate police murder, economic misery, health disparities, poor housing alternatives and other American ills.
Lewis and Vivian died a day before the birthday of the late Nelson Mandela — another renown champion of racial equality.
Mandela was a “troublemaker” too but the good things his African National Congress did was try to burn South African vestiges of apartheid down to the ground!
Rest in peace, John and C.T., thank you for your service to your people but the struggle continues!