Hero Award: Rep. John Lewis
I have four, yes, four, Hero Awards this week. The Hero Award is something we give out around here for people who on some matter big or small just do the right thing.
First off, you need to know that last week eight Democratic members of Congress joined with thousands of activists in a rally and march in DC in favor of comprehensive immigration reform that have stalled in the GOPper-ruled, actually, effectively, the Tea Bagger-ruled, House.
How stalled? The House GOPper leadership says there will be no vote on the Senate immigration bill or anything else that a majority of House GOPpers oppose. In other words, part of a part of a part of the Legislative Branch can not only prevent any legislation from passing, it can even prevent there being a vote. A hero is something that House Speaker John Boner in not.
Anyway, the DC demo was one of more than 160 such actions for immigration reform were held across the country on the same day.
After a rally on the National Mall and a march to the west lawn of the Capitol, those eight members of Congress - specifically, Reps. Luis Gutierrez, John Lewis, Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva, Joe Crowley, Al Green, Jan Schakowsky, and Charlie Rangel - joined about 200 others in blocking traffic as an act of nonviolence civil disobedience. All 200-plus of those people are heroes.
But I wanted to single one out for special note: John Lewis. After the rally, his office issued a statement noting the fact that this was the 45th time Lewis has been arrested for civil disobedience. Lewis, an icon of what's been called "the civil rights era" of the 1960s, was arrested 40 times during that period and has now been busted five times as a member of Congress: twice to protest apartheid, twice to protest genocide in Darfur, and now to push for immigration reform.
That man is a hero.
As a footnote, I should mention that four Republicans turned out for the rally as well. They were Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, David Valadao, Jeff Denham, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. They did not participate in the civil disobedience, but they did appear on the stage at the rally. Good for them.