John Lewis’ successor in Congress is already used to making ‘good trouble’
Nikema Williams is the first woman to represent Georgia’s 5th district, taking the mantle from civil rights icon and her mentor, John Lewis. Before Washington, D.C., she was a state senator from Georgia, the state Democratic Party chair and was famously arrested in 2018 over the state’s gubernatorial election.
We met up at Black Lives Matter Plaza, the place where Lewis made his final public appearance, for the interview. It was her first time being there and Lewis’ legacy was weighing heavily on her. “It was kind of like your reminder that you have to continue this when he’s not here. He set the blueprint.”
Like all new lawmakers, Williams’ third day was marred by the violent and deadly insurrection. She had spent most of the day focused on the victories from the Georgia runoff and practicing and thinking of her first time speaking on the House floor — a chance that didn’t come.
“Seeing the Confederate flag paraded through the Capitol on the day that election results were coming in for the first black man representing Georgia in the United States Senate,” Williams said. “That flag [was] just this stark reminder as a black woman growing up in the South of like what I’ve always known this country to be and the work that I still have to do.”
We covered whether she believes Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a progressive (a resounding yes), her vote to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments and whether she’s worried about the precedent that sets in the House, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Black businesses.