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Longtime community activist, leader remembers John Lewis

Posted at 11:38 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 01:15:48-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Many politicians and community leaders in Omaha are looking back on the life of Congressman John Lewis, who died Friday.

Omaha Community activist and leader Preston Love Jr. reflected on his life.

"He was not ahead of his time... he was his time," Love said.

Love, a historian and UNO professor, says he was living in Atlanta in the early 1980s when he met Lewis.

"I was working for Andrew Young. I was in government. I was a department head but he also asked me because I had a way with people," Love said. "I knew a lot of the city council people... John Lewis was on the city council."

Love says Lewis was the conscience of the city council at that time, and says they became close friends.

"John was a big, big heart," Love said. "[He was] a big man. He was steadfast and he was steadfast from the very beginning, that's my real point. He was no different in the bigger scheme of character in his resolve for reform and social justice."

Love tells 3 News Now Lewis' character always stood out.

"John Lewis was a great man," he said.

Lewis, who died of cancer at the age of 80, was a pillar in the Civil Rights Movement.

From a young age, Lewis was on the front lines of marches and protests.

"The sad part is that John Lewis in the 1960s nearly gave his life up to fight for change and reform," Love said. "He marched now, why is that sad? Because it hasn't been a week since we right now have marched for change and reform, that's sad in a lot of ways."

But despite the decades-long efforts Lewis gave, Love says we still have a long way to go.

"Here we are, saying I can't breathe in 2020. It's the same call, the same cry, the same demands for social justice and reform, and for us to be able to breathe both physically and psychologically," he said.

Love, who also runs the Black Votes Matter initiative in Omaha, says people must use their voice and voting rights that people like Lewis fought for to make a change.

"John I'd say to you, you did your job, and I want to say surely now that we owe it to John to vote like crazy," Love said.