I originally wrote this letter to Congressman Lewis about a month ago. I never received a direct response to the letter, but I was notified of his reply to the letter, indirectly through this post in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Within his response he stated,“I am fighting the same fight I have been for 33 years in Congress — the fight for opportunity for all people, not just in my district, but throughout the country,” He goes on to say. “Now is no time to rest. I am not tired, I am not weary, and I will continue to be available to every constituent who needs me.” If the problems you’ve been fighting continue to persist, isn’t it time for a new direction? Two more years of stagnation due to fighting the same battles for 33 years will only further set the people back towards the actual progress they deserve. Keep these words in mind as you read…
April 17, 2020
Dear Congressman Lewis,
I write this letter to you with great pleasure and respect, it is such an honor to be listed alongside you on the ballot for this year’s primary. With extreme adoration and reverence, I would first like to express my gratitude to you for being the man that you are. The virtues and ideologies that you have lived by have been a strong testament to how faith and the undying pursuit of righteousness can transform a society for the better. Your life’s work as well as the sacrifices you have made is a debt this country could never repay. You have lived a life to the fullest and have set the bar at what it means to be a child of God, a man of faith, and a public servant. With great understanding, I know that without John Lewis, there would not be a Barrington D. Martin, II. I appreciate you, and I am grateful for your service to our country, our people, and all that you’ve done to give me the unwavering belief that we can transform society, and create a future that we all can be proud of.
Reading your book, “Across That Bridge: Vision for Change and the Future of America,” has reaffirmed by decision to run, but more notably, I believe I am following the vision you have outlined for future generations. With all due respect, you have done the necessary work, you have carried the heavy loads, and more importantly, you have paid the price toward for liberty and civil rights since the 60’s. Yet, it is bewildering to me that no one has stepped up to the plate to continue your work. I feel that an icon, and a legend of your caliber should not have to be on the front lines, fighting the good fight at the ripe age of 80. What does that say about our future? What does that say about how we treat those who have pioneered social change within our communities? Our country?
Congressman Lewis, I am not running to run against you, or even running to make a name for myself. I am stepping up to the plate to finish what you started. I am ready to pay the price, I am ready to endure, and I am ready to carry the heavy loads you’ve carried to transform our society to be what you, Dr. King, and many of the other men and women who have come before me have envisioned. As stated above, society owes you a debt that cannot be repaid; however, the next best thing would be seeing all the work you have done and your legacy being taken further than it has ever been before. This is what I believe I can do, but this is also a promise I can keep.
There is a generational divide that I am seeking to repair. I do not want our election to be a looked at or possess the narrative that a “young gun” is looking to unseat a legend, but I rather this be seen as a passing of the torch. I have come under fire for wanting to place my name in the hat for the office you hold, but I think this is the good trouble you were referring to a while ago. I’m pushing, I’m standing up, and I’m getting in the way, similarly to how you and your generation got in the way. Although these are different times for sure, there is still so much work to be done, and I would like to give you the rest that you deserve while I fight in your stead. In fact, I would love for you to mentor me in the process. I want to show our community, the nation, and the world that the people who have always been the gatekeepers of liberty, freedom, and righteousness, can entrust their generational successors will continue their work.
As I close this letter, I want to bring up something interesting you said within your book. You stated that the dream Dr. King had was essentially us. I agree, but to take it a step further, I believe I am the realization of that dream. Who knew that 55 years after you and many others almost lost your lives on that dreadful Sunday, that your work would give birth to a generation of new thinkers and fighters willing to continue your legacy, and revolutionize it? Congressman Lewis, I want you to know that you can rest easy knowing that there is someone willing and eager to make the necessary sacrifices you have made in making this nation better for all people. Again, I honor you, respect you, and I am very appreciative for you and your service to our country.
Barrington D. Martin II