Jun 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

First look: Jon Meacham's next biography examines the life of John Lewis

Mike Allen

Cover: Random House

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Jon Meacham’s next book will be "His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope" (out this fall), a portrait of the civil rights hero and longtime congressman.

Meacham calls it "an appreciative account of the major moments of Lewis' life in the movement, of the theological understanding he brought to the struggle, and of the utility of that vision as America enters the third decade of the twenty-first century amid division and fear."

  • Lewis, 80, serving his 17th term in the House, will write an afterword.

Meacham first met Lewis in 1992, when Meacham was a young reporter for his hometown paper, The Chattanooga Times, Random House says in a forthcoming announcement.

  • "As important to the story of our nation as any of our Founding Fathers," Meacham writes, "Lewis' story is a testament to the unambiguous belief that justice can be served in a fallen world."

From the book's "Author's Note," about a special-election night in 1992, in an Atlanta hotel:

The politically astute maintain their mystique by remaining out of sight ... while the common folk stand outside, waiting.
John Lewis, however, stood among the people. ... He didn’t need to be seen as powerful; his status was secure, his standing unassailable. ... I asked Lewis ... what it was like to have traveled as far as he had — from being beaten for asking for the right to vote to being hailed as a hero of human rights.
"We have come so far," he answered in his deep, slow, preacherly voice. "All of us, all of us in the South, in America. So far. And we have so far to go. The way of the civil rights movement was the way of love, of respect, of the dignity of every person." ...
"We marched for what the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr." — Lewis said the full name, almost as an incantation — "called 'the Beloved Community.' He wanted to make love real, to give the gospel some legs — and he taught us that we have to use not only voices but there comes a time when you have to use your feet. And that march, the march for love, that march doesn’t end."

Editor's note: This piece has been corrected with the correct title of the book.

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