The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) laments the recent passing of Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, two iconic figures of the U.S. civil rights movement who developed from their close association and vital nonviolent activism with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
NSBE credits the work of Lewis, Vivian and their young cohorts in the movement in the 1960s with creating the “consciousness” that led to the founding of NSBE and many other youth-led, Black organizations in the 1970s. The African-American engineering undergraduates who founded NSBE 45 years ago saw the establishment of the Society more as “Black power” than civil rights, but the courage demonstrated by Lewis, Vivian and other young people in the movement more than a decade earlier, their willingness to put their lives on the line, and their total commitment to their cause, were objects of great respect. And the two men’s relentless pursuit of justice throughout their lives is respected and emulated by NSBE’s student leadership today.
Congressman Lewis, the Rev. Vivian and other activists of their generation led the way to many gains that African Americans benefit from at present, but as “conscious” Americans versed in STEM, we clearly see in the data how much more work remains to be done to achieve racial equality in our nation. As much as we are saddened by the loss of these two warriors, we are also inspired to greater accomplishment by their lives well lived. NSBE’s 24,000-plus members are committed to following their example of servant-leadership and complete dedication to a cause greater than themselves, and we pledge to continue focusing our energy, time, talent and treasure toward those ends in ways that will make them eternally proud.
Towards 10K,
Jocelyn Jackson
2019-2021 National Chair
National Society of Black Engineers