An American Icon Has Passed on R.I.P. U.S. Congressman John Lewis
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Congressman John Lewis. His life and service for humanity will live on.
He helped us to fight for Religious Freedom and showed us what good trouble was all about. We are stronger for knowing him.
With Deepest Sympathy we remember Congressman John Lewis, as a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress until the very day of his passing. He was 80.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Mr Lewis' passing late on Friday night, calling him "one of the greatest heroes of American history".
Mr. Lewis's announcement in late December 2019 that he had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer - "I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now," he said - inspired tributes from both sides of the aisle, and an unstated accord that the likely passing of this Atlanta Democrat would represent the end of an era.
Mr. Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement. He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
At age 25 - walking at the head of the march with his hands tucked in the pockets of his tan overcoat - Mr Lewis was knocked to the ground and beaten by police. His skull was fractured, and nationally televised images of the brutality forced the country's attention on racial oppression in the South.
Within days, Rev. King led more marches in the state, and President Lyndon Johnson soon was pressing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. The bill became law later that year, removing barriers that had barred blacks from voting.
Mr. Lewis joined Rev. King and four other civil rights leaders in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He spoke to the vast crowd just before Rev. King delivered his epochal "I Have a Dream" speech.
“Considering his enormous impact on the history of this country, what always struck those who met John was his gentleness and humility. Born into modest means in the heart of the Jim Crow South, he understood that he was just one of a long line of heroes in the struggle for racial justice. Early on, he embraced the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as the means to bring about real change in this country, understanding that such tactics had the power not only to change laws, but to change hearts and minds as well." - President Barack Obama
BERNICE KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
“Farewell, sir. You did, indeed, fight the good fight and get into a lot of good trouble. You served God and humanity well. Thank you. Take your rest.”
“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.”
“He fought harder and longer than anyone in our nation’s continuing battle for civil rights and equal justice.”
“John Lewis is what patriotism and courage look like. He sacrificed and personifies a New Testament prophet.”
THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF GEORGIA
“Time and time again he demonstrated moral and physical courage in nonviolent defiance of the white supremacist regime in the South. Throughout his long life, his commitment to full equality for all people never wavered. He will always be remembered with gratitude and admiration.”
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL
"I will never forget joining hands with John as members of Congress sang We Shall Overcome at a 2008 ceremony honoring his friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It could not have been more humbling to consider what he had suffered and sacrificed so those words could be sung in that place."
THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS
“The world has lost a legend; the civil rights movement has lost an icon, the City of Atlanta has lost one of its most fearless leaders, and the Congressional Black Caucus has lost our longest serving member. The Congressional Black Caucus is known as the Conscience of the Congress. John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus.”