Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Representative John Lewis Is Not To Be Trifled With

He has visible scars from being hit in the head with a wooden crate while protesting segregation. He has no time for your shit.

At this moment, Georgia representative John Lewis is leading a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, fighting for a vote on gun-control legislation.

The following are reasons why you should not fuck with Georgia representative John Lewis.

1. John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama, at the height of Jim Crow. He and his family — including nine siblings — were subsistence farmers, growing cotton and corn and raising pigs and cows.

2. John Lewis was 14 years old when the Supreme Court ruled that state laws that mandated schools be segregated by race were unconstitutional. A year later, Lewis heard Martin Luther King Jr. speak for the first time. By the time he was 23, he was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the most important civil rights groups of the 1960s. He was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

3. Lewis was a pioneer of nonviolent protest, which he had learned from the Reverend Jim Lawson. In 1960, he took part in lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville, Tennessee, to show that black people were being denied service at businesses across the South.

"I was sitting there with other young college students. For the most part we were well dressed, we were orderly, we were peaceful, and we were looking straight ahead, or either we were doing our homework, and people would come up and call us "niggers." They would come up and spit on us, put lighted cigarettes out in our hair or down our backs, pull us off the lunch counter stool, and we didn't strike back. At times we would just look straight ahead."

By 1961, Lewis was 21 years old and had been arrested five times. He was beaten unconscious with a wooden crate in Montgomery, Alabama, and at Bloody Sunday — when peaceful civil rights marchers were attacked by Alabama State Troopers — his skull was fractured. "I thought I was going to die," he said. Lewis still has visible scars from that day. Between 1963 and 1966, John Lewis was arrested 40 times for demonstrating against segregation.

4. Of the "Big 6" of the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, and Lewis, Lewis is the last still alive.

5. In 1961, he was attacked in a whites-only waiting room at a Greyhound station in South Carolina. In 2009, he forgave his attacker on national television.

6. When John Lewis was 22 years old, he was imprisoned in Parchman penitentiary for 37 days on a "disorderly conduct" charge. The governor of Mississippi told the prison to "break their spirit but not their bones." This is John Lewis’s mug shot from his arrest.

7. He was arrested in 2006, 2009, and 2013 for protesting against the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and protesting for comprehensive immigration reform.

8. He was an early supporter of LGBTQ non-discrimination legislation and a defender of LGBTQ rights. This is Lewis’s speech against the Defense of Marriage Act, which he vigorously opposed. "You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love," he said. "Why do you want to destroy the love (same-sex couples) hold in their hearts? Why do you want to crush their hopes, their dreams?"

You should not fuck with Representative John Lewis. You should not even begin to contemplate the process of how you might fuck with Representative John Lewis. He is the admiral of Not Today, Satan. He is the general of Not Fucking Having It.

You may disagree with Representative John Lewis. In Georgia, you may vote against him. You can send angry letters to his office. But do not fuck with Representative John Lewis. He has seen worse than whatever you have to give him, and he has handled it better than you could possibly ever begin to. Since 1959, he has stood up for his beliefs, and he has faced abuse and prison and beatings and violence for it, and not once has he ever backed down. And he is not about to start now.