Congratulations to the youth of Southern Delaware!

March 16, 2021

On March 7, a one-of-a-kind event took place in Delaware.  A youth-led group, supported by local adults, marched across the Indian River bridge in a nonpartisan event to honor and commemorate the life and work of civil rights pioneer John Lewis.  Even more amazing is that these young people both came up with this idea and worked to take it from what might have seemed an impossible fantasy to a reality.

March 7 was the 66th anniversary of the John Lewis-led march of the Selma bridge, aka Bloody Sunday.  That march is credited as leading to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination from voting on the basis of race.  By doing so, it changed America. Or so was the hope. The fact is that voting was then and continues to be one of the most controversial and divisive issues in America. 

Clearly, there is much work to do, and the youth organizers of the march not only recognize that, but emphasized that point when they chose the theme “Still Marching.” And they marched to honor John Lewis and his dream for a more empathetic, inclusive, and racism-free America.  They called for a nonpartisan, united effort to make voting rights safely accessible to all and to end racism.

State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, who spoke briefly to the youth after they completed their march, summarized John Lewis’ impact best when he said, “John Lewis was only 5-feet, 6-inches, but when he spoke, he became 6-foot 8-inches.”  While many of the young marchers are not yet tall in stature, their passion for making America a freer, fair society makes them giants in our community. What they did was special. On March 7, Delaware was home to one of the few in-person marches to celebrate the legacy of John Lewis in America. Moreover, this demonstration was likely the only celebration of Lewis’ work conceived by and led by youth in America!  And these are our young people! 

That is why the adults in our community need to take time to honor them.  And the world needs to get used to special people coming from Delaware, whether one of the nation’s leading crusaders for equal justice, Bryan Stevenson, who graduated from our own Cape Henlopen, or the President of the United States Joe Biden, or the youth who led likely a one-of-a-kind commemoration in America. 

    And because of this vision of our youth, John Lewis is looking down from heaven smiling, knowing that his legacy is in good hands.

What is equally special are the people and organizations supporting our youth. Speaker of the Delaware House of Representatives Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf and Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness spoke at the rally.  For the companion virtual rally March 9, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and Sen. Chris Coons sent video messages of encouragement. State Sen. Sherry Dorsey Walker will speak live to the virtual rally.

A constellation of local organizations supported the march including the Bryan Allen Stevenson School of Excellence, CAMP Rehoboth, Epworth United Methodist Church, First State Community Action Agency of Georgetown, Faith and Israel United Methodist Church, The Islamic Society of Central Delaware, Jewish Family Services of Delaware, Pacem in Terris, Schell Brothers, Seaside Jewish Community, SDARJ, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Sussex League of Women Voters, and Women’s March Sussex.

How many of us can say that in high school we did anything that got this kind of widespread support and encouragement? 

So on behalf of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Social Justice, we would like to congratulate our young people for their passion to continue the work that John Lewis espoused and wish them much success in the future.

Joseph Lawson is a member of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice Steering Committee.
  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter