Mind, Body & Soul: Tybre Faw, a civil rights activist at only 14 years old | WJHL

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tybre Faw is far from your average teenager. While he plays football, video games, board games, trumpet, and jokes around with his classmates like any other teenager, he’s an old soul beneath the surface.

Faw, when he was just 14, lived a far more exciting life than many retired adults. He followed the same path in Selma, Alabama that Rep. John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took in 1965 in the fight for civil rights.

He also published two books, became the subject of another book by New York Times bestselling author Andrea Davis Pinkney, and received a full scholarship to Benedict College years before he even graduated. high school diploma. Believe it or not, these are just a few of his accomplishments.

Faw is a Johnson City native and a product of the Johnson City school system. He attended Woodland Elementary and is currently a student at Liberty Bell Middle School with plans to attend Science Hill High School next year.

Woodland Elementary not only marked the beginning of Faw’s elementary education, but was also a big reason for his sudden interest in history and the civil rights movement.

Laura Evans, a music teacher at Woodland, said she has been teaching for 27 years, about 15 of them in elementary school. She said she met Tybre when he was just a kindergartener, not knowing the potential this young boy would soon bring to her class.

In third year, she had Tybre as a student, once again. Evans said his students were to perform the musical “I Have a Dream,” a singsong rendition of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man Evans’ father knew personally.

Evans shared the story of his father and Dr. King’s friendship as they attended Boston University together, living on the same floor of the building.

“When I shared some of these stories with Tybre, it really seemed to put a spark in him, he had a lot of questions about it,” she said.

Evans said Tybre was full of questions and wonder at the news. Tybre is described by Evans as a carefree, sweet, kind, caring and above all curious child.

It was his love of history that made him the accomplished young man he is today. While Tybre’s two grandmothers attribute her initial spark to Mrs. Evans, she is honored to have brought even an ounce of change to her life.

“Teachers hope we make a difference for every child and it’s been a blessing to see that I made a difference,” Evans said.

Tybre Faw has impacted every life he’s touched, but it’s the lives that have touched him that have helped him become who he is.

Bart Lyon, Tybre’s football coach since he was a young player for the Jr. Toppers, said his grandmothers were the best support system Tybre could ever ask for. However, both of his grandmothers told News Channel 11 that it is the coaching and lessons from Lyon that Tybre experiences on a daily basis.

Lyon said Tybre is smart, dedicated and passionate. It is his passion that shines on and off the pitch. “Exceptional young man, character, hard worker. The effort he gives on the football pitch is the same effort he gives in the community, it really balances itself out. He’s a great boy and I wish I had more Tybres,” Lyon said.

Lyon is full of praise for Tybre and the young man he has become. “He’s going to be bigger than Johnson City. The best is yet to come for Tybre. This is the kind of child you hope your daughters will marry, and you hope your sons grow up like this,” he said.

Tybre wanted to meet Dr. King after learning about his heritage through the third-grade musical, but since King’s death in 1968 he’s been interested in his close friend, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, another key player. of the Civil Rights Movement.

At just 9 years old, he called Lewis’s office to make an appointment with him; however, it was not the right time. It wasn’t until a year later that Tybre and his family traveled to Selma, Alabama to meet him. Tybre was unknowingly repeating history, but at the same time he was creating his own story.

“He (John Lewis) wrote a letter to Dr King, and I phoned John Lewis and it just repeated the story. Then suddenly we were close friends and they were close friends. I hadn’t noticed it until then, but it’s such an amazing thing,” Tybre said.

He and his grandmothers thought it would be a simple hello, but what happened was just the start of a whole new chapter.

Tybre met Lewis and talked with him for a while about casual topics like school and grades. Later that day, Tybre said Lewis asked her to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge with him with his arms tied. It was an experience he never imagined.

“Everyone was just shocked. Everyone thought he was just going to watch and then get back to the car and have a great day, but that was a lot to take in at the time,” Tybre said.

He and Lewis have kept in touch over the years, calling on birthdays, corresponding by mail and even visiting DC. He said John Lewis inspired him to do great things and cause “good trouble”.

Tybre has authored two books about his relationship with Lewis, books he hopes will inspire other children not just in Northeast Tennessee, but across the country.

“I wrote these books to inspire other kids to pursue their ambitions, pursue their goals, and create their own problems and change their lives,” he said.

Her relationship with Lewis opened the door to meeting other influential people in Congress. Tybre said he met Vice President Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi and many others. While he lived an extraordinary life in just a decade and a half on this earth, he said he tried to stay humble.

“Even though I’ve met all these people, I’m still a normal young guy just trying to live his dream, get involved, see what the story is really about,” Tybre said.

Asked about the death of John Lewis, Tybre had tears in his eyes, remembering the man he was lucky enough to call a ‘big brother’ and the funerals he spoke to alongside former US presidents . While Lewis is gone physically, Tybre said he will always carry him in his heart.

“He’s still there in my heart and he’s probably going to push me past my limits again because he’s overstepped his bounds, so I’ll definitely try to follow that,” he said.

Tybre told News Channel 11 that he is already planning to attend the next March in Selma which will take place on the first weekend of March. Although it’s the first in-person birthday without Lewis, he said “good trouble” will be the legacy he continues to carry.

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