I expected despair. I should have known better.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 had just been eviscerated by the Supreme Court. So I called Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., for whom passage of the act was the defining event of a heroic life, thinking his discouragement would mirror mine.
Lewis started talking instead about how he would push Congress to “put teeth back in the Voting Rights Act.”
To say I was skeptical is to understate. Congress? Obstructionist, Tea Party-clogged and more dysfunctional than the Kardashians? That Congress?
But I couldn’t budge him toward despair. The work, he said, was already under way.
That was seven years ago, and the Voting Rights Act remains in rubble. But if you think the moral of the story is that Lewis, who died of pancreatic cancer last week at the age of 80, was wrong, you miss the point.