Across That Bridge – Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

By John Lewis, United States Congressman (Hyperion 2012)

Thank you Donald for your childish words attacking Representative John Lewis.  I likely would not have searched out this book at the Baltimore Pratt Library to learn more about the man you disparaged, without your prompting.

In response to Lewis’s decision to boycott the inauguration, Trump tweeted that John Lewis is:

All talk, talk, talk — no action or results, sad!

Sadly, Donald is all tweet, tweet, tweet — no brains or intellectual power, a clear and present danger!


John Lewis grew up a poor sharecropper’s son in Troy, Alabama working in the cotton and corn fields. When his father wanted to keep him home from school to work, he would dress up and sneak outside to catch the bus to school.

He loved learning and reading, and his first act of resistance was walking to the local library to apply for a library card, knowing that Blacks were not allowed to have library cards. When he was refused one, he walked home and wrote his first protest letter.

He came of age at just the right time with Martin Luther King, Jr. as his mentor. Lewis was a member of the Freedom Riders, saw the inside of many jail cells, and was on the receiving end of alot of violence. He was one of the leaders of the March on Washington in 1963.

In 1986, he was elected to Congress representing the district that encompasses Atlanta, Georgia, which he continues to serve today. Through his personal experiences and study, his might be the most authentic voice for nonviolence in America today.

The title of the book comes from Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965) when John Lewis, as Chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), led the march across the bridge from Selma to Montgomery.

This tiny book is divided into 7 lessons that guide Lewis in his search for justice and a better world for all.  They are Faith, Patience, Study, Truth, Peace, Love and Reconciliation.

I have written these lessons on freedom and meditations on change for the generations who will take us into the future, for the dreamers young and ever young who should never get lost in a sea of despair, but are faithfully readying themselves for the next push to change.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone, even Donald, because its message is universal. As I turned the pages, I kept thinking about Israel-Palestine, and hoping these lessons resonate with friends in Gaza. I’m going to purchase a copy of the book to take with me when I return to Gaza.

If you have time or patience to only read one chapter, I hope you select Chapter 4 – Truth.

The truth is that we are all interrelated. There would be no rich without poor, no healing without the sick, no young without the old, no “first world” country without the “third world” country. We are all “inextricably linked,” King said, and that is why it is futile for any group to draw lines in the sand. The vast sea of truth will merely wash those weak lines away.

The take-away message for me, if it can be boiled down to a simple message, is that we must change ourselves first, and live our lives authentically and consistently with the truth which will always prevail. Maybe not in our lifetime, but the truth is undeniable and we must be the vessels for that change.