Congressman meets with young activist

Jun 26, 2018
In The News

Local youth Elijah Lee met with Congressman G.K. Butterfield Satuday in Roanoke Rapids. Pictured from left are: Jessica Lee, Elijah’s mother, Lee, Butterfield, and Trinity Lee, Elijah Lee’s sister. The meeting was the culmination of Jessica Lee’s efforts to reach out to Butterfield’s office about her son meeting with the congressman in person. 

The Roanoke Valley’s congressman has taken notice of the accomplishments of a Roanoke Rapids youth.

Meaghan Lynch, communications director for Congressman G.K. Butterfield, D-Wilson, said Butterfield was able to meet Elijah Lee, 10, of Roanoke Rapids, during an event Saturday morning.

Lee first drew attention when he organized the first End Violence Against Children March in February in Centennial Park. Since the march, several local groups have honored Lee, including Roanoke Rapids City Council.

Lynch said she learned of Lee’s interest in meeting with Butterfield through another staff member.

“A few months ago, Elijah’s mother (Jessica Lee) contacted Congressman Butterfield’s district director, Reginald Speight,” Lynch said. “She shared with Reginald that Elijah had been doing a lot of reading and had become interested in the civil rights movement and leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.”

Lynch said Lee began reading about Butterfield and had expressed interest in one day meeting him.

“Reginald had been in communication with Jessica to see about getting Elijah to one of the Congressman’s events in Halifax County, but they could never make it happen,” Lynch said. “Reginald kept Ms. Lee updated that the congressman would be in the area June 23, and finally on Saturday the two met in person.”

Jessica Lee said following the march, Elijah had expressed an interest in politics and understanding how politics work, and she said she urged him to reach out to Butterfield as a result of this interest.

“I wanted him to understand there are people out there who will help him expand his voice,” Jessica Lee said. “Elijah definitely feels that his voice matters, and if his ideas and issues can be heard by his Congressman, I really wanted him to understand that.”

Jessica Lee said she had been in touch with Butterfield’s office and received notice Butterfield was going to be at First Baptist Church in Roanoke Rapids Saturday. The meeting occurred in the church’s parking lot.

The meeting left Butterfield impressed by the KIPP student.

“Elijah is one of the most informed and intelligent 10-year-olds I’ve ever met,” Butterfield said. “He was very thoughtful in expressing his views on current affairs and expressed a knowledge of history. It is clear to me that Elijah spends much of his time reading and processing the world around him. He benefits from a supportive family, school and community.”

Jessica Lee said her son was very impressed with Butterfield as well.

“Elijah said he was so impressed that someone who spends time in Washington, D.C., and takes care of so many important issues, would be so approachable,” Jessica Lee said. “The Congressman is so involved in community affairs, and he wanted Butterfield to know about the positive things he was doing, being a young person doing something good in the community. Then they got to talking about American history and Congressman Butterfield urged Elijah to take a closer look at a number of things.”

Jessica Lee said her son isn’t necessarily looking to go into politics but is simply pursuing an interest in the subject. He’s been talking about going into science or pursuing law school, but there’s plenty of time for decisions.

“He’s still only 10,” Jessica Lee said. “I think he’s learning how to connect through politics.”