“Love The Hell Out of Them” — The Discipline John Lewis Left Us

Perhaps the absence of eye contact is why it’s so easy for us to fight online. If we had to face the person we’re tweeting, would we?

Brittany Talissa King
ZORA
Published in
8 min readJul 18, 2022

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It’s been two years since the passing of American hero, the Congressman John Lewis. Before he held office, Lewis was the soon-to-be chairman of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and a central leader in the Civil Rights Movement. And as I parse through articles, photographs, and interviews commemorating him and the civil rights legacy — I cannot help but notice the drastic difference between the activists’ humility and our egocentric culture.

Something is happening in our country that I cannot quite explain.

It feels as if our nation is desperate for our constant chaos to stop spinning. It seems we’re collectively fatigued by our division, yet we continuously devour one another online and off the web. Why?

Many times, the answers to our pressing questions are already recorded down in history. As a millennial who knows only a post-segregated America, I’ve always been fascinated with the activists of the Civil Rights Movement. But not only because of their astonishing accomplishments, but how they were able to achieve them non-violently. This philosophy’s been acknowledged for decades, but its discipline has gone over our heads.

Perhaps the absence of eye contact is why it’s so easy for us to fight online. If we had to face the person we’re tweeting, would we?

During an interview with On Being in 2013, John Lewis thoroughly explained the nonviolent philosophy, and how it wasn’t just a moral stance but a discipline. “Long before any sit-ins, any marches to Selma or Montgomery, any Freedom Rides — we studied civil disobedience.” The activists took courses every Tuesday night in a Methodist church near Fisk University. There they would train and participate in intense workshops, role-playing violent scenarios they’d face during their boycotts, protests, and demonstrations. “You’d trained through the motion of someone harassing you, calling you out of your name, pulling you off your seat, someone kicking you, someone pretending to spit on you. We needed to feel…

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Brittany Talissa King
ZORA
Writer for

Writer and journalist. I explore race and social issues through history and pop-culture. @b.talissa IG. @KingTalissa Twitter. Journalism MA — NYU.