The Wisdom of John Lewis

Created: July 18, 2020
Last Updated: July 27, 2020



Dear W&J Community,

When word came last evening that Rep. John Lewis had died, it was hard to accept despite the fact that the world was aware that he would not recover from the cancer that steadily robbed him of his strength in recent days.  Mr. Lewis was a geniune American hero whose strength and courage were matched only by his deep humility and generosity of spirit.  I was privileged to get to know him over many years in Atlanta and found that he was unfailingly the very model of uncommon integrity.

While some may have disagreed with his stances on political issues, what John Lewis meant to our nation and world was far more important than politics or partisanship.  In the end, it is his moral example and steadfast commitment to civil and human rights that will be most remembered. Washington & Jefferson College awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2016, at which time he gave an address that may be summed up in this brief excerpt:

“We all live in the same house and we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. . . . Never give up. Never lose hope. Never get lost in the sea of despair. Dream dreams. Keep the faith. And never hate.”

I cannot imagine a more clarion call to all of us as we face the challenges of 2020.  Let’s take these words to heart as we prepare to begin our new academic year.

With gratitude for each of you,


John C. Knapp, Ph.D.
President and Professor

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