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On March 8, 2015, one day after the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” John Lewis asked me to take his picture at the foot of The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

A short story.
In 2015, for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” I was invited by The White House to join the gathering in Selma to commemorate this historic event.

I was humbled to be invited and there was no way I was going to miss being there in person. I flew to Alabama.
I am a student of the Civil Rights Movement and over the years I’ve had the honor to learn from many of its leaders, including John Lewis.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think my hero would become a teacher + a elder who passed down his wisdom to so many of us.
On the day of the anniversary, there were 20,000+ people in Selma, including many of the original marchers, dignitaries, Civil Rights icons, members of Congress, President George W. Bush + First Lady Laura Bush, President Barack Obama + First Lady Michelle Obama...and John Lewis.
I was humbled to witness President Obama’s remarkable speech in person, and afterwards he gave a hug to John Lewis that will be remembered forever.

When President Obama sat down, he squeezed First Lady Michelle Obama’s hand - we knew we were witnessing history.

📷: @PeteSouza
We all walked across The Edmund Pettus Bridge, with President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, John Lewis, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Adelaide Sanford and CT Vivian leading the way.

It is still wild to me that I was part of this historic moment. Still feels like a dream.
The following day, on Sunday, I decided to go to Selma for few hours before heading to the airport.

I was walking on the side of the bridge where “Bloody Sunday” took place, just taking it all in, when a silver SUV pulled up.

The car door opened.
And John Lewis stepped out.
As John Lewis exited his car, I was the first person he saw, as I was just a few feet away from him.

He looked at me and I looked at him.

We didn’t say a word.

Seconds of silence.

After a few moments, he said “Skolnik, can you take a picture of me?”

I nodded my head.
I took a few photos of Mr. Lewis on my phone in the exact spot he was beaten 50 years ago on that horrendous day in American history. Bloody Sunday.

When I was done, I asked him why he was here.

He gave me a big hug + whispered, “We got beaten, but we never gave up.”
He asked me to send him the photo, got back in his car + left.

I’m really sad today. I couldn’t write much, but I wanted to share this story.

John Lewis is my hero. My mentor. My teacher. My friend. I’m heartbroken he has passed, but we will never give up!

📷: Spider Martin
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