by Reuben Guttman. Guttman is an ACS Board Member and a Director at Grant & Eisenhofer, where he heads the firm's Washington, D.C. office.
Back in the fall of 2010, Congressman John Lewis gave the keynote address at Emory Law School’s National Civil Rights Access to Justice Forum co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society. Lewis, of course, had been a leader in the Civil Rights Movement resulting in passage of sweeping civil rights legislation in the 1960‘s. He had been a close colleague and advisor to Dr. King, traversed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the historic march from Selma to Birmingham, stood by Dr. King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and endured his share of jail time and beatings. By 2010, Lewis had risen from the ranks of the civil rights movement and through local Atlanta politics to become a leader in the United States Congress. He was and remains a national treasure. But more than anything else – at least for the audience at Emory Law School – Lewis understood from personal experience the important role of lawyers in challenging accepted norms that violate fundamental rights.
As Lewis scanned the audience in Emory’s Tull Auditorium, his eyes focused on a bald-headed gentleman seated a few rows from the front. And as he talked about the role of lawyers to “agitate for what is fair and just,” to “find a way to get involved,” to “get into trouble but good trouble,” the Congressman paused to recognize the bald-headed gentleman, “a distinguished lawyer,” who epitomized all that Lewis was talking about on that November morning.