On Monday, February 21st, Community Advocate Monique Chandler-Waterman and Canarsie artist Kenny Altidor celebrated the historic life of the late John Lewis on what would have been his 82nd birthday. The event took place in front of a freshly painted mural on East 56th Street and Clarendon Road.
As Lewis was a civil rights pioneer and congressman, the tribute was appropriately held during Black History Month, and Altidor believes that his legacy will live on forever. His hope is that everyone will remember the importance of Lewis’ fight for voting reform and rights.
“We just wanted to make this a special remembrance of all that he did – the voting rights, fighting against segregation and his work as a freedom rider and Democrat leader pushing for reform. This should be visible to everyone and for everyone to know, with the gun violence, we wanted to make sure we echo that for his birthday,” Altidor said.
John Lewis passed away from pancreatic cancer on July 17, 2020. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District from 1987 to 2020.
Waterman also called on the community to honor the legacy of Lewis and has a strong message for our youth to make a positive impact in the community and end the violence.
“Today, as we honor John Lewis and his legacy, I call on all of us here to roll up our sleeves to make a difference. Kenny has given us art, some of us run food pantries, host protests, volunteer at community centers or even join the PTA. We all have a role to play to uplift our community. I have joined many of you at anti-violence rallies, at resource fairs to share knowledge with our communities and at our worst I’ve joined with you at funerals and vigils of people senselessly taken away from us. Let’s elevate our future and create a world that is better than we left it. That is what John Lewis and so many other freedom fighters did for us,” Waterman said.
Altidor expects his artwork to be finished with final touches and paint soon.