It caught me by surprise to hear that Congressman John Lewis had passed on. I flashed back to the NAMM Advocacy Fly-in May 2019. I have had a lifetime in music products. I was carried to shops as a baby for building and repairing guitars, to having my own rental, repair and appraisal business for more than 40 years (A & D Music). NAMM’s Advocacy Fly-in had to be the highlight. I want to encourage any of you who have not gone, to take this opportunity as soon as it becomes available again.

We were welcomed, fed, transported like royalty to and from the Capital building and strategized to do important work those three days. Now I truly know what the expression “running up and down the Hill” means. It is no expression! You physically are running from meeting to meeting with members of Congress or their staffs. As part of the California delegates, we had 17 meetings.

NAMM places you with seasoned veterans of this event. We had just enjoyed a break of a lunch at the U.S. Capitol, when David Jewell, partnerships and alliances manager at Yamaha, realized we needed to dash out a side door to make a meeting in less than 15 minutes across the way to another building. And up 10 flights. In that mad dash a voice of my teen years during the Civil Rights Movement made me come to a dead stop. It was John Lewis standing on the steps of The Capitol building lecturing to middle school children. He was telling them how important education was, and to be the best they could be, and it was their responsibility to help change laws for it to be better for all of us. I just wanted to sit at his feet with the other kids to listen to his words of wisdom. I grabbed my camera and grabbed a quick shot and off we flew.

Jewell reflected back on that powerful moment recently. He noted that our sighting of John Lewis was a highlight of the fly-in, providing an adrenaline rush, and for him, “a boost of energy that kicked everything into high gear to make it to our next meeting with seconds to spare.”

The pandemic has become the new challenge. Music transcends all people. Our customers need us. Music is the healing force of the pandemic. We are in the best industry that gives us the best opportunities.  We need to reach out to our customers and create a new way to keep our stores open virtually.

“Without music, the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings,” Lewis once said.

“We must never ever give up, or give in, or throw in the towel. We must continue to press on! And be prepared to do what we can to help educate people, to motivate people, to inspire people to stay engaged, to stay involved, and to not lose their sense of hope,” Lewis also said.

NAMM issued the following statement following Lewis’ passing. “We at NAMM are saddened to hear of the passing of Congressman John Lewis, whose legacy as a champion of civil rights and justice extended to his firm support for access and equity to a well-rounded education for all children. In 2015, he was presented with The NAMM Foundation’s SupportMusic Award where he shared a powerful message about music’s role during times of needed change.”

John Lewis
February 21, 1940- July 17, 2020
Never forgotten.

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