After 25 Years, Is It Time For Rep. John Lewis to Leave Congress?
1 year ago
Meet Michael Johnson, the guy who says he'll replace civil rights icon Lewis
Michael Johnson, the former Fulton County Superior Court Judge in Georgia, is running for Congress against Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon who participated in some of the most impactful demonstrations during the 1960s to end the Jim Crow era. Since then, Lewis has served in Congress for nearly 25 years representing the 5th District of Georgia. There have been ups and downs, particularly in recent years when Lewis took criticism for originally supporting Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama in the 2008 elections, and then just last month when he was refused a chance to speak at the Occupy Atlanta protests. Johnson believes it’s now time for new leadership. Some are saying that Johnson has the youth and vigor to take the Georgia district in a new direction. We spoke with Johnson to hear directly what his plans are for unseating Rep. Lewis and why the battleground is not the picket line, but the unemployment line.
Loop 21: Why are you running, and why now?
Michael Johnson: The way I look at it is I’m not running against John Lewis, I’m running for the office. I know who he is and have a tremendous amount of respect for him. However, I think it’s time for new leadership, and to explore opportunities to bring more money back to the district. There are issues that have plagued the country and our district for decades. We’ve had the same leadership for nearly 25 years. The approach so far has been from a civil rights perspective. I think that’s an important perspective, but i think we need a multifaceted approach when looking at these issues.
Loop 21: What are some of the negatives and positives of the “Civil Rights approach”?
Johnson: I don’t know if I feel there are any negatives to the civil rights approach. Many in previous generations opened up opportunities for many young people today, and even people such as myself. Fact is, the battleground is no longer the picket line; it’s the unemployment line.
There comes a time when we have to pass the baton. Reverend Joe Lowery was speaking at a banquet honoring the Freedom Riders. He said “The ride ain’t over.” From that I took that in order for the ride to continue not only must we allow the next generation of riders to ride the bus, we must also allow the next generation of leaders to drive the bus. It’s up to our generation to take advantage of opportunities.
Loop 21: Do you think your experience as a judge could assist you in any way as a legislator? If so, how?