On July 17, the nation said goodbye to C.T. Vivian and John Lewis, giants of our time. Both men were born when opportunities for African-Americans were restricted by law. In the face of Black Codes, Jim Crow laws and indiscriminate lynching that kept racial segregation firmly in place, these men refused to be denied the promises articulated in the founding documents of this nation.


At a young age they were on the frontlines of the modern Civil Rights Movement and sacrificed all to join history making battles for the constitutional right to vote for African-Americans.


The Brown Foundation was honored to share the company of these two men. We hosted Congressman Lewis in Topeka on three occasions. I first met him in 1992 when I was working on the bill to establish Brown v. Board National Historic Site. He joined me in testifying before a Congressional Committee that oversees National Parks.


Their passing calls on us to compare the pervasive indifference of the current administration with activism of past decades that demanded accountability of government leaders. Activism that swayed public opinion and positively influenced federal legislation. To honor the memory of C.T. Vivian and John Lewis we must vote Nov. 3. Voter suppression is about fear. Fear of the majority losing power. Fear of people of color freely voting for what is in our best interest.


As we traverse the months leading to election day. The courage of C.T. Vivian and John Lewis must be our North Star.


Cheryl Brown Henderson (founding president, Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research), Kansas City, Mo.