EXCLUSIVE: Alabama mayors reflect on John Lewis’s life, legacy

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — After a weekend of services and celebrations celebrating his life in Alabama, Congressman John Lewis is now in Washington D.C., lying in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

Lewis was a civil rights icon who made history advocating for equal voting rights. CBS 42’s Malique Rankin spoke with Alabama mayors to reflect on how Lewis has impacted them both personally and professionally.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said voting equality is still an issue Americans face today.

“Knowing that a presidential election is coming up less than 100 days away, there’s work to be done around voting rights,” Woodfin said. “That is the foundation of the Congressman’s legacy.”

Timothy Ragland, mayor of Talladega, agreed with Woodfin, adding that to honor Lewis, people need to go to the polls this November.

“We have to do what he told us to do, vote like never before,” Ragland said.

Ragland, who isTalladega’s first Black mayor, said that when looking back on all that Lewis has accomplished, it’s through what is happening across the country right now that people see Lewis’ work continue on.

“We see him as we see protesters marching through the tear gas and rubber bullets,” he said. “That’s the legacy of John Lewis, getting into good trouble.”

Woodfin is the youngest mayor the Alabama’s largest city has seen in over a century. Woodfin said it was Lewis’s choice of nonviolence that made his actions so powerful.

“Passive resistance against inequality, against racism that existed in this country, and he laid his body on the line,” he said.

Lewis was known for encouraging “good trouble.” Both Woodfin and Ragland were asked what kind of “good trouble” each of them have gotten into in their respective cities.

“There are different opinions on how we can stop the spread of the virus. I’m getting into good trouble by making proposals, and if they’re not acted on in a swift manner, I take matters into my own hands,” Ragland said.

Woodfin reflected on the Confederate monument at Linn Park.

“Thinking about the Confederate monument and statue in the city of Birmingham, in the city park, across from city hall. Taking it down, even though it was illegal, it was the moral thing to do,” he said.


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