BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The late civil rights leader John Lewis had a number of ties to Buffalo and Western New York, including relatives.
Some folks say Lewis had fond memories of his visits to the Queen City.
Former Common Council President George Arthur told us, he first met Congressman John Lewis when both men were serving their home cities–Arthur was Council Majority Leader and Lewis had just been elected to Atlanta’s City Council.
Arthur was the seasoned veteran, John Lewis the raw rookie.
Long before John Lewis made his mark in Congress, he and George Arthur met at a National Conference of Cities gathering in Charlotte, North Carolina about 40 years ago.
“He always talked about his Buffalo ties and relatives. It was always a pleasure,” Arthur said.
But it was after Lewis gained worldwide attention in the Voting Rights movement as he took on the Jim Crow South.
Lewis was a newbie on Atlanta’s City Council, Arthur was majority leader on the Common Council, sharing his experience dealing cable TV, as they compared office sizes.
“I got a big office, I got this and that. You got that? I got to share an office. We were going through that, and what have you, and we were getting into cable. It was later that I realized that was the John Lewis.”
George Arthur told us, the two would meet again in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention that nominated America’s first black president Barack Obama.
The former Council President told us, John Lewis was a humble man, never seeking the limelight for himself, as former President Theodore Roosevelt put it, he spoke softly and carried a big stick.
“And I think that is what made a lot of people respect him. He did not go out and showboat, and he did not try to belittle anybody,” Arthur added.
He also says he believes John Lewis’s quiet and steely determination is what got things done for him and earned him the respect of his colleagues in Congress, on both sides of the aisle.