JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – At only ten years old, Tybre Faw of Johnson City made the trip of a lifetime. He traveled to Selma, Alabama with his family to meet his icon, Representative John Lewis.
Not only was he able to meet his newfound hero, but he was invited to march across the Selma bridge. Rep. Lewis, who had walked alongside major key players in the Civil Rights Movement, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, was now walking side-by-side with Johnson City’s own Tybre Faw.
Just two short years after their initial meeting, Rep. Lewis passed away following a hard-fought battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.
Although gone, the legacy he leaves behind will continue to inspire generations to come, including Faw.
Following the news of his hero’s passing, Faw said he was upset, but had no doubt in his heart that he would attend the funeral. However, he never expected to be asked to read.
Faw said he learned the poem “Invictus” one of Rep. Lewis’s favorite poems and practiced it. While he was nervous reading in front of all in attendance at the funeral as well as the nation, he remembered who he was reading it for, which encouraged him to be brave.
“I always just told myself just to calm down, and do what John Lewis does, calm down, speak up and speak proudly,” said Faw.
Representative Lewis was more than just his hero, he was a friend. What started off as a goal when he was 9 years old to meet Lewis in person, turned into an unbreakable bond.
The two went to a football game together, and Faw was even invited by Lewis onto the House floor once during a vote, according to his grandmothers.
Faw said he was inspired by Lewis and feels a deep connection to him that will live on forever.
“He died and he fulfilled a purpose, and he made that purpose so his death is not in vain, we’re going to carry on his legacy. He cared about the next generation that’s going to come up after him and I think he was a great person in general,” said Faw.
Faw said the funeral was emotional, having to say goodbye to such a dear friend. However, that friend has forever shaped his life.
He said he has plans to run for president when he’s of age, running on the platform of fighting for equality, stating “no one should ever be put down because of their skin color or what they believe in,” said Faw.
He said it’s a dream fueled by his hero, John Lewis. While it will be years until Faw is eligible for office, he told News Channel 11 he encourages everyone registered to vote to get out to the polls and vote, making their voices heard and honoring his late friend.