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I draw these connections because, admittedly, when I first heard of John Lewis’s death, I did not immediately understand or consider how his activism correlated Black Cat Don’t Bother Me Right Meow Moon Shirt with the activism of today. Through a contemporary lens, as conversations around defunding the police and providing reparations to direct descendants of Black slaves catch steam, the actions of leaders such as John Lewis can feel far and distant. Add to this the arc of Lewis’s later years—a 16-term congressman who mastered bureaucracy and fought for major advances for the Black communities he represented, but also chose to endorse then senator Hilary Clinton in the 2008 election over the young, optimistic “newcomer” Barack Obama—and it is easy to imagine how young Black activists might not see the immediate parallels or connections between their work and Lewis’s.
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