Updated: Jul 30
Remembering a civil rights legend, long-time Congressman, beloved bipartisan and staunch supporter of structured settlements.
By: Eric Vaughn, Executive Director, NSSTA
This past week our Nation lost a civil rights icon who served as the leading voice of the movement throughout his 34 years in Congress. The structured settlements industry lost our strongest and most effective champion on Capitol Hill.
John Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986, and he represented the Georgia 5th Congressional District for 34 years. During
his long career serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Lewis joined more than 50 Congressional Caucuses. During all of those years, Congressman Lewis decided to organize and serve as the Chairman of just one Congressional Caucus—the Congressional Structured Settlements Caucus. Of all the Congressional Caucuses and causes he could have selected to lead, he chose structured settlements. One time he told me why he chose us, he said;
“Structured settlements enable an injured person and his or her family to live their lives, with economic security, guaranteed payments, confidence in the future and dignity.” “What could be more valuable and important than that.”
On March 5, 2014, Congressman Lewis launched the Congressional Structured Settlements Caucus and encouraged all Members of Congress to join this Caucus and support the expanded use of structured settlements. Click here to read Congressman Lewis remarks at the inaugural meeting of the Caucus. John Lewis was born February 21, 1940 and died on July 17, 2020. He fully lived 80 impactful and transformational years.
Congressman John Lewis spoke at several NSSTA Meetings and Conferences over the years. In 2012, the Congressman spoke at the NSSTA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. While Congressman Lewis was speaking that day, NSSTA Counsel John Stanton walked over to me and said of Congressman Lewis’ remarks, “…the Congressman is channeling Martin Luther King with these comments.” Indeed, he was. Congressman Lewis was not delivering a speech that day, he was delivering a sermon about the importance of helping seriously injured people and allowing those who have been injured to live their lives with security, dignity and respect.
Over these past couple of days news commentators have been asking people to describe Congressman John Lewis and the legacy he leaves behind. I knew John Robert Lewis for nearly 30 years. No one can possibly appreciate all that he accomplished, all of the people he worked with and helped and all of the political causes he led and bled for. But I know in my heart that John Robert Lewis cared. He cared about:
People and their rights
Seniors and their health care
Children and their education
Workers and their safety
Young people and their dreams
Injured people and their structured settlements