Faith and Civil Rights
Dean Lloyd: Welcome everyone, and it is great to have you back for the next in our series of conversations going on in the relationship of faith and public life.
Our conversation today is a very special event marking a very distinctive moment in the life of this Cathedral and in some ways of this nation.
It was forty years ago tomorrow, March 31, 1968, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached what would be his last Sunday sermon from this Canterbury Pulpit. Four days after he preached this sermon, he was killed in Memphis. So the power of that sermon and power of that moment linger on very significantly, certainly in the life of this Cathedral, and in many ways far beyond.
It was a very great sermon. So in honoring that moment, the fortieth anniversary, we are taking a week to explore some of the dimensions of racial reconciliation that are still on the national agenda and things that we need to be thinking about. There will be a whole week of events. There will be a handout for you all as you leave and also in the leaflets for the service at 11:15 telling you what is coming your way, but we wanted to begin at the heart of the matter with one of the true heroes of the civil rights movement and one of the heroes of our time.
John Lewis is with us, Congressman John Lewis, who represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District in Atlanta, but he comes in many ways because of where he was forty years ago. And forty years ago he was one of what was called the Big Six, the key civil rights leaders, and by far the youngest of them all, planning and strategizing how to make an impact on what was the terrible situation of racial segregation and discrimination in our country.
He underwent extraordinary testing. He was arrested over forty times. He received several beatings with some of them within an ounce of his life. And yet he maintained through all of this an extraordinary commitment to nonviolence. Today we want to probe a little bit on how he became who he was in that era, talk a little bit about the impact of the civil rights movement then, and move on to talk some about what that means for our time. Congressman Lewis, what an honor to have you here. Welcome.
John Lewis: Thank you very much, Dean Lloyd. I am delighted and very happy and very pleased to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Lloyd: Well, it is a thrill to have you here. Let’s start back at the beginning a little bit. I understand that you were very serious about your Christian faith at a very early age.
You were even called by the nickname Preacher early on, only you had a fairly unusual congregation. Would you like to tell the people a little bit about that early congregation and your preaching ministry?
Lewis: Dean, I grew up in rural Alabama about fifty miles from Montgomery, near a place called Troy, on a farm. My father had been a sharecropper and then, in 1944, when I was four years old—and I do remember when I was four he had saved three hundred dollars, and with that three hundred dollars he bought 110 acres of land.
We raised a lot of cotton, corn and peanuts but we also raised hogs, cows and chickens. It was my responsibility to care for the chickens, and I fell in love with raising chickens like no one else could raise chickens, but as a young child I wanted to be a minister. I wanted to preach the Gospel. So from time to time, with the help of my brothers and sisters and my first cousins, we would gather all of our chickens together in the chicken yard, and my brothers, sisters, and first cousins, along with the chickens, would make up the congregation. I would start preaching, and when I look back on this, some of these chickens would bow their heads, some of these chickens would shake their heads. They never quite said Amen, but they tended to listen to me much better than some of my colleagues listen to me today in the Congress. (laughter and some applause)
Lloyd: I have had some times that this sounds very familiar. Your faith was important from the beginning but you also described in your marvelous book, Walk With the Wind, how your faith began to deepen from something about getting a ticket to heaven to something that had everything to do with what was going on in the life in front of you. And I know that Martin Luther King himself had a major role to play in that shift. Could you tell us a little bit about how that sort of narrow personal-based faith began to open up into something big and prophetic?
Lewis: As a young child who would visit the little town of Troy, or visit Montgomery, I would see those signs that said white men, colored men, white women, colored women, white waiting, colored waiting, and I did not like it. I would come home and ask my mother, my father, my grandparents, why segregation? Why racial discrimination?
They would say that is just the way it is. Don’t get in the way, and don’t get in trouble. I felt as a young child you know going to Sunday school, going to church that segregation was not in keeping with my Christian faith. It was not in keeping with the teaching of the Great Teacher. So one day in 1955, at the age of fifteen, I heard about Rosa Parks during the bus boycott in Montgomery, and I heard Martin Luther King, Jr., preaching on an old radio.
And the sermon was something like Paul’s Letter to American Christians. And that sermon was so inspiring. It seemed like Dr. King was speaking directly to me, saying, John Lewis, you too can become a part of this effort, become part of this movement, that you can put your faith in action.
Lloyd: What was Dr. King saying that Paul’s Letter to American Christians… that was a new kind of way of understanding the faith for a lot of people, what was he saying about this way of reading the Gospels and reading what Jesus was saying?
Lewis: I think, in his message, he saying that Paul was saying that you must make your faith real. You must live it. You must put it into action and that you just couldn’t talk about over yonder, but you had to talk about here now: the streets of Montgomery, the streets of Birmingham, the ways of Birmingham, the ways of Montgomery, the way of the South, that we had to change things. I heard Dr. King talk about redeeming the soul of America and making America better.
Lloyd: That was new language to hear in those days.
Lewis: Yes, it was a new language. It was a different language for me, but it was so inspiring.
Lloyd: And it connected with what you were instinctively feeling: that there was something wrong and your faith had something to do with it. Jesus has something to say about this.
Lewis: Well, Dr. King, through his message, through his preaching, stirred something in me that was already burning. I was so inspired by him. I was so moved by the words, the teaching of the Great Teacher, and my reading and understanding of the Gospel that one day, with some of my brothers and sisters and first cousins, back in 1956 at the age of sixteen, we went down to the public library in the little town of Troy trying to get library cards, trying to check out some books.
And we were told by the librarian that the library was for whites only and not for coloreds. I never went back to that library until July 5, 1998, for a book signing of my book. And hundreds of black and white citizens showed up. (applause and cheers) They gave me a library card. (laughter) There were hundreds of black and white citizens. We had some food. We had something to drink. We had a wonderful program. And it made me a better person, and it continued to make me a better person.
Lloyd: You began to get involved very quickly in the civil rights movement. You were involved in some sit-ins early on. You were being trained to be an effective nonviolent protester. And clearly, by your vision, your faith, your Christian faith was very much at the core of what the civil rights movement was about. There have been a lot of accounts to look at such as a social movement or political movement but for you I guess following with Dr. King this was from the start an act of nonviolent faithfulness to what you thought Christ’s own teachings were all about. Is that right?
Lewis: Well, I saw my involvement in the civil right movement as an extension of my Christian faith. It was my faith. As young students, as a student, I studied the teachings of Jesus. We studied the great religions of the world. We studied what Gandhi attempted to do in South Africa, what he accomplished in India.
We studied the way of nonviolence. So I will never forget when we were required or urged to put our teaching into action. We would be sitting down at a lunch counter in downtown Nashville near the end of February of 1960, and someone would come up and spit on us or put a lighted cigarette out in our hair or down our backs, pull us off of the lunch counter stools and beat us. But we adhered to the philosophy of nonviolence.
We did not strike back. And we were able to forgive. And that was so much in keeping with the teaching of Jesus.
Lloyd: Let me stay with that for just a minute, one of the reasons you are such an icon of the civil rights movement is your bravery in the midst of enormous violence and your capacity to sustain the cruelty being inflicted. We think of you on the Pettus Bridge when the police with the clubs came at you and those who were marching with you and beat you terribly. How do you maintain nonviolence and the capacity to forgive in the midst of such unimaginable cruelty and brutality being inflicted on you and those around you?
Lewis: It is the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God Almighty, and the teaching of Jesus infused in us.
I accepted nonviolence not simply as a technique, as a tactic, but as a way of life, as a way of living. When you accept nonviolence simply as a tactic you, become like a faucet, you can turn it on and you can turn it off. You can say when I am going to love Sue and I am noting going to like Mary. I am going to love George and not like Bob.
The best thing to do is to just love everybody. The way of love is a better way. It is very much in keeping with my faith.
Lloyd: I read somewhere that you were taught to do things like look into the eye of the person who was beating you or treating you terribly, to let them know that you were a human being and you were seeing the human being in that person. That whole notion that, in nonviolence what you’re trying to do is to maintain humanity in an inhuman situation, and that must have been hard sometimes.
Lewis: Well, if you accept the idea that there is a spark of divinity or a spark of the divine in every human being, then you cannot come to hate that person or have ill feelings against the person that is beating you. You have to have the power, the willingness to forgive and accept the suffering and the violence in the right spirit.
Lloyd: Tension started developing in the civil rights movement over just that. There were some people saying enough is enough with this nonviolence; it is time to take it to the streets in a different way and take action and you must have felt some of that struggle yourself and it became part of your own organization, SNCC, after awhile and was it going to be a nonviolent organization or one willing to resort to violence?
Can you tell us a little bit about how you lived in that civil rights struggle between the radicals who were ready to do radical things, and the nonviolent one who were being radical in another way, by refusing the way of violence?
Lewis: It was a very difficult period during the time that I was involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee—better known as SNCC—was a real struggle. But I made up my mind and I made a decision and I had what could be called an executive session with myself, saying that I am not going to turn to violence. I am not going to hate.
As Dr. King would say, hate was too heavy a burden to bear. And I left the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee because I did not want to be associated, I did not want to be part of an effort that would not lay down the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. As I said before, for me nonviolence is one of those immutable principles that you do not deviate from, you cannot give up on. You have to be consistent.
Lloyd: Another important tension in the civil rights movement developed later in Dr. King’s leadership, which was the possibility of expanding the focus of civil rights from focusing simply on discrimination and changing the unjust laws, to looking at issues of poverty and war and the rest. And it was in that context and in that time that Dr. King gave the great speech that he delivered here on March 31, 1968. I would like, if we could, to listen to a few moments of that speech, then ask you to recall some of what you remember going on at that time when he delivered that great speech. Could we have that now?
A portion of Dr. King’s speech or sermon, March 31, 1968:
“One day, we will have to stand before the God of history and we will talk in terms of things we have done. Yes, we will be able to say, we build gargantuan bridges to span the seas. We build gigantic buildings to kiss the skies. Yes, we made our submarines to penetrate oceanic depths. We brought into being many other things with our scientific and technological power. It seems that I can hear the God of history saying, ‘That was not enough! But I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and you clothed me not. I was devoid of a decent sanitary house to live in, and you provided no shelter for me, and consequently you cannot enter the Kingdom of Greatness. If you do it unto the least of these my brethren, ye do it unto me.’ That is a question facing America today.”
Lloyd: Poverty, civil rights, and war all wrapped up together. You can’t deal with one without the other, he seemed to be saying in that sermon. Were you part of that expanding of the agenda?
Lewis: In my own way I tried to do my best to be a part of that effort. A few days before Martin Luther King, Jr., came here to deliver that wonderful and powerful message, I was with him in Atlanta. He had brought together what he would call those that had been left out and left behind. It was people in need, the poor. There were black, white, Hispanic, Asian-American, and Native American. He was preparing to come to Washington with something called the Poor People’s Campaign.
Lloyd: The Poor People’s Campaign, yeah. that was the plan.
Lewis: It was to camp out here. He was trying to put back on the American agenda the issues of hunger and poverty. You know, Dean Lloyd, just a few months earlier, about a year before he spoke here, he had delivered a sermon in New York on April 4, 1967, against the war in Vietnam, and it was a powerful message also.
He had this concern, like we all did: How could we tell people in our land, in our own country, especially the young, to practice nonviolence when we were engaged in violence abroad? If he were alive today, and he could speak to us today—and I think that in a way he is speaking to us—he would tell us to take care of the poor, to provide for the homeless, to provide food for those that need a decent meal, to clothe the naked, to visit those in prison and to put an end to war, to lay down the tools and instruments of violence and study war no more.
Lloyd: He began losing a lot of public support when he broadened his agenda. He had developed within his own support, people in the movement, a strong sense that civil rights is our focus and our mission. People who were outside the movement were willing to come along and thought, well, that is what it is about. Then all of a sudden he opened it up to address the other great social and moral issues of our time and he saw his own support diminishing quite a bit. Correspondence talks about how people were attacking him from every side at that point. But he had to do it, it sounds like.
Lewis: Martin Luther King, Jr., felt he had a calling, a calling from God Almighty, a calling from the spirit of history.
Lloyd: He said that he wasn’t checking the polls.
Lewis: No. He didn’t believe in polls. You know, as politicians, many of us believe in polls, but he didn’t believe in polls. He never put his finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing.
He went with his gut. He went with his heart, with his soul. He felt that he was doing the right thing, he was carrying out the mission, the calling of God Almighty.
Lloyd: Well, let’s jump to today for a minute, and then we are going to open this up for some questions from the audience. War, poverty, civil rights, and social justice are as much on the front of the newspaper today as they were forty years ago when he preached this sermon. What do you think Martin Luther King would have to say to us? You said a little bit of it before, but if he saw us now what would be his urgent message if he were climbing up in the pulpit today instead of you?
Lewis: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would have said to us today that we’ve made a lot of progress, that we’ve come a distance, but we still have a great distance to go before we as a nation and as a people end hunger, poverty, racism, and war.
He would be so disappointed that we still have unbelievable misery in our country for so many people. He would take note of the progress, yes, but he would challenge us as a nation and as a people to get on the right side to end war, to end violence, take care of the basic human needs of the people.
Lloyd: Just to follow up on that, we have been involved in a conversation about race over the last couple of weeks, having to do with the political campaign. And in the midst of that, it does seem like a gap in understanding has opened up in our country, where, getting a window as to what is happening in the black church through the word of Jeremiah Wright has become something deeply disturbing to a lot of people—both black and white. But also a lot of people who are concerned that there is that kind of anger in the black church, and the people on the white side are also concerned and ready to protect themselves more. And what Barack Obama tried to do is say that there are two worlds that are both aggrieved and legitimately aggrieved and are not talking to each other or understanding each other very well. Would you say something about this very perplexing moment in racial understanding we are in right now?
Lewis: Sometimes I would like to think and I would like to feel that we are much further down that road where we have an understanding, but maybe we are not. The civil rights movement had the power, the ability, the capacity, in my estimation, to do what I call bring the dirt, to bring the filth from under the American rug, out of the cracks and corners into the light so that we could deal with it. And just maybe, just maybe what is happening now will bring something out, so we all can be educated and sensitized, so as citizens of this nation and as people of faith, and all of us can be singing from the same hymnal or reading from the same page. But it’s important, and it’s necessary that we have this dialogue on race, so we can lay down the burden of race.
Lloyd: Well it is clear that it will take some hard work to get where you are describing we need to go. People were so disturbed by the very troubling remarks of Jeremiah Wright, the language, the vigor of the accusation, the rage they saw. And on the other side again, the whole white community has been slow to make any clear response except that they are very uncomfortable about what they see. How can we get at this mutual incomprehension when, as has been said many times now, the most segregated hour of the week is the hour we are in right now on Sunday morning?
Lewis: Well, we can get there and we must get there. We should not give up; we should not give in, in trying to make it there. We will make it there. You have taken a line from my sermon already.
Lloyd: Good, maybe people will stick around to hear the whole thing then. Okay, why don’t we open it to the floor for questions from the audience?
Deryl Davis: Does anyone have a question, if you could make your way over here, please?
Question #1: I cannot tell you how encouraged I am by your witness here this morning. Thank you very much. There are people here in the Cathedral today whose property has been seized by the IRS, or who live in voluntary poverty because of their conviction that paying for war through their income tax is a sin against God, against humanity, against the Beloved Community.
If we provide legal permission for people who do not physically serve in war, why is it that we have not been able to provide this same permission for people to use their tax dollars not for war but for peaceful purposes? I know that you are the lead sponsor of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill, and I wonder if you could say a few words about that?
Lewis: Well, thank you very much. As you well, know I serve on the Ways and Means Committee in the House, the fifth-ranking Democratic member of the committee. And I have introduced a piece of legislation calling for a Peace Tax Fund, where people will continue to pay their fair share, but it would go into a fund that could be used for humanitarian purposes and not for war. And we have several sponsors and we will continue to get sponsors for that piece of legislation, and maybe one day, one day we will hold a hearing and pass it out of our committee and get it on the floor of the House and pass it. But it may take a long time before that happens, but I would like to see that day come during my stay in the Congress.
Lloyd: Part of your work is bearing witness even if you are not going to win on things. That seems to go all the way back to the beginning. You stand where you need to stand and you say what you need to say. Is that right?
Lewis: Well, that is part of it, and you are reading me right. Sometimes you have to just get in the way, sometimes you have to raise the question, ask the question, raise certain issues and just be there to try and call people’s attention to an issue.
Question #2: Representative Lewis, 41 years ago I had a chance to meet Martin Luther King, Jr., in person at the age of sixteen and I was a child of the 1960s. Now fast forward forty years later, the question that I have to ask you is that you made a very important decision about presidential election, do you see one of those candidates being a bridge to healing the racial issues? And is it more racial, or is it more of a humanistic issue that we deal within the 21st century?
Lewis: I think that it is important for us to come to that point, and I think that we are on our way as a nation and as a people where we transcend the issue of race.
At one point during my early involvement in the civil rights movement, I thought the only real integration that existed in America—and I thought the essence of what we called the Beloved Community—was within the movement itself. But we became a family. It did not matter whether you were black or white, we were one family. And that is what we must understand today. I have often said that it does not matter whether we are black or white or Hispanic or Asian American or Native American, we are one people; we are one family. We are one house, and we all must have a place at the table. I am not going to sit here today and endorse a candidate. I have already made my endorsement, but I think someone is going to emerge and become president of the United States that will take us much further down that road, toward the creation of the Beloved Community or a truly interracial democracy.
Question #3: Yes, thank you very much for being here. It’s a great honor. Forty years ago, as you correctly identified, the issues that Dr. King addressed—war, social justice—are still with us today but today we have a new issue that perhaps is humongous and that is the issue of our environment and global warming. How do you think that Dr. King might have addressed that?
Lewis: Oh, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., being a minister of the Gospel, he would be speaking up, speaking out, to save this little planet, to save this little piece of real estate that we call earth. He would say that this is not our earth; this is not our planet, to hoard, to abuse to waste and that we have an obligation to leave it a little cleaner, a little peaceful, a little greener for generations yet unborn. He would be on the right side of history.
Question #4: Do you think that Barack Obama’s popularity is a measure of how far we have come in our race relations and should he be the nominee and lose, do you think that would be somehow a setback to race relations?
Lewis: Now, do you know what you are doing? You are putting me on a spot here.
But it is okay. I have been in the hot seat before. I think, I really and truly believe that, if Senator Barack Obama receives the Democratic nomination, I am convinced he will be elected president. I believe in my gut that the American people are prepared and ready to take a great leap. And it would serve to send the strongest possible message, not just to the citizens of America, but to the citizens of the world, that America can be looked upon as a model for diversity and for a new type of leadership. (applause)
Question #5: Yes I would just like to, my observance of what happened to Senator Obama by many white people is their ignorance and their need to punish him for the Rev. Wright but the other thing is that in 1968, Shaw Junior High at 7th and Rhode Island, as we heard Thursday night about what happened to Martin Luther King, that whole area now is gentrified with half-million-dollar homes and up, so we have made a lot of changes but we are also—
Lloyd: We need your question.
Question #5: —going down the wrong road in many ways—
Lloyd: Could we have a question, very quickly.
Question #6: My question is, Representative Lewis, as you know, we have far too many people in prison in this country relative to the rest of the world. But a very, very high percentage of those are black men. And I am wondering if, how we can tackle this problem, because until we stop imprisoning people, we are not going to be able to have the resources to deal with poverty.
Lewis: I agree there are too many, just too many of our young men, especially minority men, being sent to prison, coming in contact with the Criminal Justice System. We need to start spending more of our limited resources on child care and day care, on educating all of our children and giving all of our children a head start. We need unbelievable reforms of the criminal justice system.
Lloyd: To the front.
Question #7: Yes. As you well know, Quakers have a great tradition of activism and being part of reform for the better with society. And the Friends Meeting of Atlanta, in your home there, have done tremendous work and have led the Quaker communities around the nation and the Friends Society in trying to work toward racial harmony and improvement. And my question is, what can Quakers like myself and other religious communities do to help you, and help to further the work that you seem so easily to champion because of your position and so forth? And we would like to hear how best to support you and to help you with that?
Lloyd: I would like to underline, a question from the website today was, what can the average citizen do to support the things that you are talking about today?
Lewis: Well there is a role for all to play. You may not have the drama—and I know some of us like drama and you may not have the drama that we had during the 1960s, but there are so many things that we can do as individuals.
All of us, when we see something that is not right, that someone has been put down because of their race, their color, their nationality, of their sex, whatever, we have to speak up. We have to speak out and say that is not right. That is not fair. That is not good. That is not in keeping with the teaching of the Great Teacher.
Sometimes I wish that every child in America had an opportunity to attend some of the nonviolent workshops that I attended as a young college student. We need to teach our young people the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. There is too much violence in our society. We need to teach people to care for each other and to love each other. It is better to love than to hate.
Lloyd: Back to you.
Question #8: Hello, Congressman. It is an honor. I was wondering if you could speak, I had the pleasure of seeing you speak in 1998 at an event for Stokely Carmichael and he mentioned that people whether it was Malcolm X or other folks would always attack Dr. King but he never attacked back. He was always loving. So could you speak to that?
Lewis: Well, it is part of my philosophy and is… For the most part, many of us that emerged in the movement, we did not get involved in name calling, whether it was someone like Governor Wallace or Bull Connor in Birmingham, or Sheriff Clark in Selma, Alabama. I saw George Wallace as a brother, or Bull Connor, or Sheriff Clark. And I make mention in my little book, Walking with the Wind, that when you see someone, or look in the eye of a member of the Klan, or someone that is beating you, you have to think that at some point this person was a little child, somebody’s little baby.
They didn’t come into this world hating and putting people down because of their race or color. Something happened. And we all have to have the power and the capacity to be able to forgive and to understand.
Question #9: Congressman Lewis, Tom Ely, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont with Nancy Vogel, chairperson of our Dismantling Racism Commission. Vermont is one of the whitest states in the Union. We are here with a group of pilgrims from Vermont witnessing to our commitment to racial justice. We welcome from you a word of advice as we go back to Vermont, to our people, and try to continue the work that we are doing. How do we talk to a state that is as white as Vermont about the issues that you are raising today?
Lewis: Well, one of the things that you could do, if you have an opportunity, travel through some of the areas where there happen to be people of another color or another race, and get to know those people and maybe invite some other members of the American community to Vermont. I have been to Vermont a few times to speak at some of the colleges and universities.
One good thing that has happened in America right now, especially with a lot of our colleges and high schools, where teachers and college administrators are recruiting young people, high school students, middle school students to travel to the south and visit historic civil rights landmarks, show “Eyes On the Prize.” Play Dr. King’s sermons, go to Montgomery, go to Selma, go to Birmingham, go to Memphis, go to Mississippi. Along these lines, you know, a lot of people who live outside of the South don’t understand and they think the South is still another world or another place.
But I believe today and as southerner I may be a little biased here, I think there is the greatest sense of hope, a greater sense of optimism in the American South because of all we came through and many, many and I believe the great majority of southerners black and white are prepared to lay down the burden of race and move forward, and you can just see it. There are hundreds and thousands of people that are leaving the East Coast, leaving the Midwest, leaving the far West and are moving to the South and it is not all because of the weather. (laughter)
Lloyd: Question in the back.
Question #10: Good morning, Congressman Lewis. I feel that as a country we have progressed and we have gone a long way, but I think that there is so much disunity between the African American community and that, until we unite as one, we cannot reach our full potential. And so my question is what do you think Dr. Martin Luther King would say about the state of the African American community?
Lewis: Good morning. Well, thank you. It is true, during the time and the leadership of Dr. King and others, there appeared to be a greater sense of solidarity within the African American community.
During those days in the American South, whether it was in Georgia or in Alabama or some other parts of the South, it did not matter whether you had a Ph.D. degree or no degree, in some places you could not register to vote. You could not get a soft drink and a hamburger at a lunch counter. And that all changed. But today we have made so much progress, as you suggested, but we are dealing with many other issues and concerns that transcend the issue of race, where blacks and whites must work together. You have blacks and whites of different sides and on different issues, but that is a part of the changes. That is part of the progress. I would not be overly concerned. Just go out and do what you can and do good on your little piece of real estate. Just make your contribution and get others to make their contribution.
Lloyd: One last very brief question.
Question #11: Okay very brief, I am asking this because you are a member of Congress and Congress does have a role in defense of the Constitution. And there are many of us, including a lot of people in Vermont, who feel that the executives of this country have committed high crimes and misdemeanors and should be subject to impeachment proceedings. Can you tell me what your views are on this? And can you also say if you are willing to dialogue with the American people and Chairman John Conyers of the Judiciary Committee on this question?
Lewis: Well, I am prepared to listen and engage in dialogue about Constitutional rights, Constitutional issues. At this juncture and at this period in the Congress, we have the election coming up and I would like to concentrate my time and resources right now trying to encourage all of our citizens to get involved in the political process and get out and register and go to the polls and vote and not get sidetracked by the issue of impeachment.
Lloyd: We are going to have to stop the conversation there, but I hope you all will continue to be part of this Exploration of Racial Justice and Reconciliation that will be taking place in the course of this week at the Cathedral, continuing, of course, with the sermon at the 11:15 service by Congressman Lewis.
Tomorrow night, Monday night, Taylor Branch, the very distinguished historian of civil rights, will be here to talk. Tuesday and Wednesday a remarkable documentary film talking about a white family’s discovery of their own roots in the slave trade and going back to Africa to meet some of the people who were affected by that slave trade years ago. It’s a remarkable film.
Twice a day all week there are services with sermons that are in the Martin Luther King tradition a full week concluding with a reflection on the week next Sunday.
Next Sunday at the Forum, we change the subject a bit and we have with us the head of the National Endowment for Arts, Dana Gioia, talking about faith and poetry of all things.
But for now we are going to get ready for the service. There is coffee in the back of the Cathedral. Go out through the first set of doors and then to your left. I encourage you to get your hands on Congressman Lewis’ book, Walking with the Wind. There are some copies in the back that available. And by all means, please stay for our service at 11:15.
Join me in thanking Congressman Lewis. (applause)