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Legendary civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis passed away on Friday at 80 years old. Lewis revealed in December 2019 that he’d been battling stage IV pancreatic cancer.
In a statement, Lewis’ family remembered his service to the country and dedication to his family.
“It’s with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce the passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis,” his family said. “He was honored and respected as the conscience of the U.S. Congress and an icon of American history, but we knew him as a loving father and brother. He was a stalwart champion in the on-going struggle to demand respect for the dignity and worth of every human being. He dedicated his entire life to non-violent activism and was an outspoken advocate in the struggle for equal justice in America. He will be deeply missed.”
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John Lewis, The Civil Rights Leader & Congressman
Born to sharecroppers in Alabama, Lewis would become a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. In 1955, Lewis first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak on the radio, and a year later, when the Montgomery Bus Boycott began, he closely followed the news about it. Lewis would then meet the civil rights leader as a teen, after writing a letter to Dr. King about being denied admission to college for what he thought to be due to his skin color.
Years later, in 1961, Lewis became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, made up of white and Black people, who were determined to ride from Washington, DC to New Orleans in an integrated fashion. At that time, several states of the old Confederacy still enforced laws prohibiting Black and white riders from sitting next to each other on public transportation. Lewis would lead and participate in numerous protests and face multiple arrests during his fight for justice. But that wouldn’t stop him.
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Lewis would continue the good fight, serving as the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until he died in 2020.
President Barack Obama’s Statement on Rep. John Lewis Passing
“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise,” Obama said. “And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement on Rep. John Lewis’ passing
“Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress,” Pelosi said.
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John Lewis’ Impact Internationally
Rep. Lewis’ service would not only impact people fighting for equality and justice in the U.S. but also reach across the seas, impacting so many others.
“John Lewis’ impact extended far beyond America’s shores,” Embassy of Ireland USA recalled in a tweet. “His example inspired civil rights activists in Northern Ireland where, six years ago, he joined another remarkable John crossing the Peace Bridge in Derry. His legacy on our island is a great one. He will be sorely missed.”
John Lewis’s impact extended far beyond America’s shores. His example inspired civil rights activists in Northern Ireland where, six years ago, he joined another remarkable John crossing the Peace Bridge in Derry. His legacy on our island is a great one. He will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/3L9Z1OeXmT
John Lewis was an icon who fought with every ounce of his being to advance the cause of civil rights for all Americans. I'm devastated for his family, friends, staff—and all those whose lives he touched.
My friend, role model, and activist extraordinaire has passed. Congressman John Lewis taught us how to be an activist. He changed the world without hate, rancor or arrogance. A rare and great man. Rest in Power and may God finally give you peace. #RIPJohnLewispic.twitter.com/uQY48LoFzx
Rep. John Lewis has passed. It is not enough to say he was a revered civil rights icon. He was a man of impeccable integrity who dedicated his life to fighting against racism, discrimination & injustice. John was a true leader who inspired us all to have the courage to fight.
Heartbroken by the loss of two incredible leaders ❤️ Reverend C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis both dedicated their lives to the fight for racial equity and for that we are forever, gratefully, indebted #RIPpic.twitter.com/cC9K1n8Guv
The night in Harlem, he told the crowd we would see his story in a documentary film. It was a blessing to be at his side. Please see “Good Trouble.” He wanted to make sure the full history of his journey was left for us to see and learn. Thank you John Lewis. pic.twitter.com/lsB7FeYAXp
Rest in Heavenly peace Mr. John Lewis. Thank you for your service, for your committment to change and your courage. You did great with your time on this earth. "Goodnight sweet Prince. May flights of angels sing the to thy rest." And…pour some blessings on us down here 🙏🏿❤️ pic.twitter.com/9ZBSnLYmMa
We are deeply saddened by the passing of John Lewis. His life-long mission for justice, equality and freedom left a permanent impression on our nation and world. The NAACP extends our sincerest condolences to his family, and we send prayers of comfort and strength to all.
Congressman John Lewis spent his life fighting racism and injustice wherever he confronted it, from boycotts, sit-ins, and other protests in the streets, to championing bold, progressive policies in Congress. #ripjohnlewispic.twitter.com/Sj3joYHWni