HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Late Rep. John Lewis touched the lives of many as he fought for hope, change and an end to racial injustice.
On Thursday, he was remembered by Sonnie Hereford IV, whose father was instrumental in helping Huntsville become the first city in Alabama to begin the desegregation of public schools.
In fact, Hereford said Lewis and his father, Dr. Sonnie Hereford III, shared the same ideas of nonviolence that started with Dr. Martin Luther King.
Because of Hereford III and the help of Lewis, in 1963, Alabama schools integrated.
“Dr. King was here in 1962 and that was one of the things he talked about was integrating the schools and keeping the movement nonviolent. My father was a peaceful man in that same way and John Lewis sometimes got into trouble with the more radical movements because he wasn’t incline to commit violence,” said Hereford.
In 2013, Hereford had the opportunity to sit near Lewis during the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington film festival.
Hereford and Lewis were invited to be the only two panelists on the discussion of race relations then and now, which is an experience Hereford said he will always cherish.
“It was really special to meet him because I’ve considered him for a long time the greatest living civil rights hero in the country. At one point during our panel I made a point about the supreme court trying to weaken the voting rights act and John Lewis turned to me and said I was in California last week, he said I tried to make that point, but I didn’t make it as good as you did and that was one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Hereford.
Lewis was one of the most prominent leaders during the civil rights movements, who never stopped causing good trouble as he would we say.
Although his legacy lives on, Hereford said there is still more work to be done to end racism.
“That’s something John Lewis said decades ago, we’ve come a long way but we still have a long way to go. He was exactly right and that part hasn’t changed, we have made progress over the decades but we still have a long way to go,” said Hereford.
Hereford IV also played a major role in the civil rights movement.
He was the first black child to integrate into a white public school in Alabama.