A Legacy of Reaching Out for Justice

“Congressman Lewis has been clear and consistent in his message of justice from the 1960s until today. It isn’t every day that you get to meet a true humanitarian hero—we will never forget that day. He’ll continue to be an inspiration to me and our family. Rest in Peace Congressman John Lewis.”

Jeff Koji Maloney, Mayor, Alhambra CA
Congressman John Lewis from the 5th District of Georgia reaching out to Koji Maloney in the rotunda of the US Capitol Building.

On January 24, 2019, my husband Mike Maloney and I accompanied our son, Jeff Maloney, who as the Mayor of Alhambra, CA., was attending the Conference of Mayors in Washington DC. While touring the Capitol, I was assigned the task of keeping track of our grandson Koji, a very small but active 4-year-old. As we toured the spacious Rotunda, a group of very important looking people had just left a meeting and were walking through this grand room.

One gentleman quietly broke away from this group of dignitaries and began to approach Koji who had somehow wandered away from my watchful eye. I didn’t recognize this gentleman immediately but he slowly bent over and spoke very softly asking Koji his name. He then shook my grandson’s hand and as Jeff approached to introduce himself, the kind man bent down and lifted Koji up into his arms. It reminded me of something a kind and loving grandfather would do.

This gentle giant was Congressman John Lewis. He was a genuinely nice man and this incredibly sweet gesture was definitely the highlight of our trip! Congressman John Lewis will be greatly missed for his care and compassion for our country!

This story is from Janet Maloney of the Volunteer Leadership Council as told to Clement Hanami, JANM’s VP of Exhibitions and Art Director.

Pictured from left to right: Jeffrey Koji Maloney then-Mayor and current Councilmember from Alhambra CA, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester from the at-large District of Delaware, Congresswoman Barbara Lee from the 13th District of California, Congressman John Lewis from the 5th District of Georgia and in his arms, my grandson Koji Maloney.

Clement Hanami

Clement Hanami is the Director of Programs at the Japanese American National Museum

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