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Tampa native Bernard Lafayette remembers good friend and fellow activist John Lewis

Lafayette and Lewis were college roommates and participated in the Freedom Riders movement together.

TAMPA, Fla. — As Rep. John Lewis was laid to rest, he was remembered and celebrated in Atlanta on Thursday as an icon and civil rights hero. 

While his former college roommate and fellow Freedom Rider, Bernard Lafayette was unable to attend the ceremony, he spoke to 10 Tampa Bay about Lewis’ legacy and their fight to make the United States a better country for all Americans.

NOTE: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Reporter: You were not able to attend John Lewis’ service today, but you were able to watch. What were your thoughts on his send-off?

Bernard Lafayette: I thought it was absolutely superb. And one thing that I observed is that the speakers in their own way, reinforced what John Lewis was all about. And you could hear the repetition. Among them, so it was very clear that they did appreciate and did understand what John Lewis was all about. And so, I was very impressed with that.

Reporter: John Lewis often talked about getting into “good trouble.” What do you see as the value of good trouble?

Lafayette: A law that was discriminatory--segregation laws and that sort of thing. We broke those laws. But we were obedient to a good law, which meant that you were upholding the right thing.

Reporter: You were very close with Lewis and have known him since your college days as his roommate. What emotions are you feeling now that he is no longer with us?

Lafayette: It took me a while to kind of accept the fact that I would not be able to be with him again…He was born in February. I just celebrated my 80th birthday yesterday. And C.T. Vivian [who died on the same day as Lewis] now we're very close, and his birthday is the 30th. Today, July 30. And so, I lost two close friends, brothers, within a 24-hour period. So, I've been struggling with that. But I'm doing well. I got a lot of family support.

Reporter: What do you want people to remember about Lewis?

Lafayette: The single most important thing that we want to remember about John Lewis was that he did not give up...He stuck with it no matter if he was pushed back beat back... he was being obedient to his conscience, and he wanted other people to join in with him.

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