A Statement from Points of Light President and CEO Natalye Paquin in Honor of the Reverend C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis

Jul 18, 2020

Today, we celebrate the lives and legacies of two extraordinary leaders in the civil rights movement – Reverend C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis.

These two men have provided a guiding light to what it means to live civically engaged lives. They exemplified what we believe at Points of Light to be the core of our mission – a belief that the most powerful force in the world is the individual who has realized their power to do good, and who applies their time, talent, and resources to make a positive difference.

Both men made deep sacrifices for their quest for civil rights and justice, including being jailed and beaten on multiple occasions. They were pioneers, leaders, heroes who believed in building a better world through peaceful demonstration.

Points of Light had the immense privilege of having both men joining a panel with Dr. Bernice King and Ambassador Andrew Young at our 2014 Points of Light Conference.

“You have to make the world you want,” said Rev. Vivian to our audience. “When we came along there wasn’t anything good about being Black in America. We changed it to what we wanted to be.”

Congressman Lewis reminded everyone that we have an obligation to take action.

“If you see something that is not right, or fair, or just, you must do something about it,” he shared.
Both truly believed in the power of youth. At our conference, Rev. Vivian said, “I want to talk positively about the youth… You decided who you are, what you’re going to do and who you’re going to become.”

Congressman Lewis not only inspired young people, but he was truly inspired by them. He touched my life when he wrote a recommendation letter for my goddaughter for college. She was a volunteer in the community, and he was always willing to support the next generations that were engaged in making their community better.

Rev. C.T. Vivian and Congressman Lewis’ life-long accomplishments are immeasurable, and led us to this moment in time when there is renewed momentum to continue the work. Let their legacies serve to inspire us to live fully civically engaged lives and to make the world a more just and equitable place for all.

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