Wynton’s Blog

Honoring late Congressman John Lewis

John Lewis

I knew and loved Mr. Lewis but Scotty Barnhart was family to him as Scotty is to me. This is his beautiful post in remembrance:

“My thoughts I wrote last night on my late friend, John Lewis.
As I sit here tonight remembering the legacy of my late friend Cleve Eaton, the news flashed across my phone that another dear friend of mine just passed away tonight. This one hits especially hard to both me and my family.

Congressman John Lewis died a few hours ago from pancreatic cancer. I just spoke with his son Miles and it is confirmed. I’ve known John, his late wife Lillian, and their son Miles all of my life as our families have been close since the 1960s. I truly believe that I would not be where I am today had it not been for John’s love of Jazz music and Freddie Hubbard in particular.

When I was 12, I was asked to babysit their son Miles as John and Lillian and my parents went out to a dance one Saturday night. I happened to notice his magnificent looking stereo system and wall mounted speakers, but it was the album on the top of the pile that grabbed my attention. It was Freddie Hubbard’s Bundle of Joy. I put it on and my life was changed forever. Freddie became my favorite trumpeter of all time and my life as a Jazz musician was ignited.

John put his life on the line for all Americans as he fought vigorously and courageously alongside Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy, and many others. He was there for King’s I Have A Dream speech in ‘63, and he was traveling as an aide to Bobby Kennedy when Kennedy was assassinated in ‘68. He was in the front of the line as he led the marchers across the Edmund Pettis Bridge on what became known as Bloody Sunday. He almost died from having his skull cracked open by the billy club of a racist police officer.

He forever suffered a slight speech impediment because of it but he still kept fighting for our rights. He was a nice and gentle man who simply wanted to help people and make the world a better place. He always invited me to visit him in his DC office whenever I was in town and I gladly took him up on it when I could. His death, along with that of my good buddy Cleve Eaton just makes me realize that none of us are promised tomorrow.

As Sinatra once said, “we must live each day as if it’s our last because one day we’ll be right.” John Lewis has left us a tremendous legacy of powerful leadership buoyed by an engaging intellect and thirst for life. He had the ear of Dr. King, of Kennedy, and of Obama, yet he was humble and always made me feel important. I looked up to him as I did my other late friend, Julian Bond, and I have to thank my parents for having them and so many other important figures in our lives.

Rest In Peace, brother John. We love you. Thank you for all you did for our country and our people. Thank you for literally putting your life in harms way for the betterment of society. You will never be forgotten and will forever be revered and honored.
Your friend,

Scotty Barnhart

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