East High superintendent remembers meeting John Lewis

Created: July 18, 2020 11:58 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — John Lewis was an icon of the fight for civil rights. 

He marched in Selma and helped organize the March on Washington. Rochester residents may remember his close relation with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, even speaking at her funeral two years ago.


Another local who had met Congressman Lewis is Dr. Shaun Nelms, the superintendent of East High School. He met Lewis through the fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, which Lewis was an honorary member of. 

"I think seeing him and touching him and hearing him was almost like your black and white history books came alive," says Nelms. 

"He was really pushing the idea of getting into trouble and getting into necessary trouble. And I left that conversation thinking how must I take that meaning and put it into my professional life, my personal life. What type of trouble is good to start? And for me, it was in the field of education. What types of injustice must I surface? What types of inequities must I identify? And more importantly what strategies must I employ so that we change this world forever?"

John Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. He was 80 when he died late Friday night.  

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