'Make Racism Wrong Again' viral post was for his kids, says South Philly native

August 02, 2019 - 6:15 am
Jamal Lewis

Courtesy of Jamal Lewis


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Jamal Lewis doesn't consider himself to be "that brave."

Originally from South Philly, Lewis has lived in Johnstown for two years. As a black man living in the western Pennsylvania town — which is nearly 80 percent white — he said it has been interesting, to say the least.

"It's very uncomfortable at times," he admitted. "Being from Philadelphia, I didn't grow up with that kind of racism."

So after a photo of Lewis went viral, in which he's wearing an anti-racism T-shirt, he just thought he was simply doing "the right thing."

"I just wanted to ... let people know that racism is wrong," he said.

The single father of four said he was sitting at home on his porch recently when a man walked by with a swastika on his sleeve and a "Make America Great Again" hat.

"I've seen him (before). He has a Confederate flag, but he made a statement that day. Me and my kids were affected by that.

"After that, I knew I had to make a statement."

So Lewis decided to flip the script on the slogan: He bought a shirt and hat online that say "Make Racism Wrong Again."

The South Philly High grad tested his new swag at a Johnstown Walmart.

"Right from the door, I got a couple dirty looks," he said, "as a couple people looked at me out the side of their eye. And a couple people were really pleased."

Lewis shared a photo of himself wearing his new merch on Facebook, also explaining his Walmart experience. 

"I think it was up to 150,000 likes," he said. "I did not expect it at all."

And the shares keep multiplying. But Lewis said he did it for his children, and to show the world that it's time to change the tone of conversations surrounding race.

"Speaking out for good, speaking out for truth, speaking out for justice," he added.

And Lewis said he plans to continue to wear the shirt to future Walmart trips.