“… young people have an obligation, mission and mandate to push and pull, and not be satisfied.”

Those are the words of the late John Lewis, who was a civil rights activist and congressman.

John Lewis in 2014 being interviewed for Aspen Ideas.

Aspen Ideas in recognition of its 20th anniversary this spring released the interview conducted by then (and now late) PBS co-anchor Gwen Ifill. Their discussion came 10 years ago on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

“You have to have the ability to speak up, speak out and get in the way. Get in trouble—good trouble, necessary trouble,” Lewis said. “That is what I have been doing for more than 50 years. And I will continue to do it.”

Systemic change seems to come from younger people galvanizing around a shared cause or belief. They can be the catalyst for lawmakers to change policy. We need them more than ever–for change in the U.S. and our policies abroad.

Lewis, in his quest for civil rights when he was in his 20s, was arrested multiple times, beaten and harassed. He understood the change young, determined people could foster.

As I listened to Lewis speak it made me think about the unrest today on college campuses.

Blindly supporting Israel is not the answer. The United States needs to do better—and soon. Israel and its powers that be need to be held accountable for the slaughter of Palestinians, for the destruction of Gaza as well as the continued turmoil in the West Bank.

Washington Post Associate Editor Jonathan Capehart on the May 3 edition of the PBS News Hour said how it’s possible to be against what the Israeli government is doing in Gaza without being anti-Semitic. I agree wholeheartedly.

Lewis’ talk didn’t touch on Mideast issues, but he did say a comprehensive immigration plan is needed in this country. A decade later and it’s still true. Too bad a candidate for president was able to sway his party in Congress to not sign one of the most comprehensive immigration bills in generations.

As Lewis said, “There is no such thing as an illegal human being. We all come from some place.”

At the time of the Lewis-Ifill interview, he was frustrated young people didn’t “want to get their hands dirty.” That they walked away from conflict, from fighting for what is right.

I think he would be proud of what is going on today—or at least most of it. I know I am.

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