July 20, 2020

KIPP MA Response to the Passing of Representative John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian

To the KIPP Massachusetts Community, 

Along with you, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Representative John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian. While we mourn their losses, we also celebrate their lives and legacy. By the age of 21, John Lewis was already a significant leader of the Civil Rights Movement, participating in the first Freedom Rides and working alongside Martin Luther King Jr. on the March on Washington. He served in the House of Representatives since 1986, continuing to fight for Civil Rights in America. Reverend C.T. Vivian was also an active leader and trusted advisor for Martin Luther King Jr., leading student sit-ins and Freedom Rides. These two men continued to speak publicly on the continued fight for freedom and equality until their passing on July 17, 2020.

I spent the weekend reflecting on the impact John Lewis has made to our community. John Lewis is the embodiment of the struggle for racial justice and equity as a lifelong journey that has moments and seasons but never really ends. We pass the baton to the next generation and continue the struggle. I’m honored to run this lifelong race as both a Black woman and the leader of KIPP Massachusetts.  I will work to ensure our students develop critical consciousness.  I will make space for them to embrace “good trouble” as they pursue their aspirations by walking their own paths.

As Rep. John Lewis said in his own words, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” He has passed the torch to each of us. As KIPP Massachusetts continues the fight to create a world where our students will thrive, we must aspire to continue the work led by Rep. John Lewis’ accomplishments. We will honor him and allow his legacy to live on as the blueprint for the work that we do each day in our schools. Thank you, Representative John Lewis. Thank you, Reverend C.T. Vivian. May you both rest in power.


“Nikki” Barnes

Executive Director | KIPP Massachusetts 

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