Alabama native, civil rights icon John Lewis passes away
U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) passed away at his home on Friday evening at age 80. He was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer in December.
Lewis was born on February 21, 1940, in Troy, Alabama. He grew up in rural Pike County. After seeking to become the first black student in history at then-Troy State University, he ultimately attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University in Tennessee.
His incredible legacy as a hero of the Civil Rights Era was cemented close to his hometown, when Lewis was brutally beaten by Alabama state troopers as he led protesters across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.
There is currently an ongoing push to rename the bridge after Lewis; a petition to do so has garnered more than 350,000 signatures.
Michael Starr Hopkins, founder of that movement, said in a statement, “Congressman John Lewis was a civil rights pioneer and an American hero. He dedicated his life to the pursuit of unconditional love and equality for all Americans. His legacy is our legacy, his story is our story.”
“Our country is a stronger, more empathetic, and just country, because of John Lewis. Whether it was his push for voting rights for African Americans, which led him across the bridge in Selma, or his fight to end segregation and provide dignity to millions of Americans, he will never be forgotten. While John Lewis may no longer physically be with us, his spirit and his desire to stir up ‘good trouble’ will forever guide us,” he added.
Make good trouble.
Rep. John Lewis, the conscience of Black America, has already given us our marching orders. It’s our duty to press onward. Rest well, hero. pic.twitter.com/X5AyrIPbyr
— Randall Woodfin (@randallwoodfin) July 18, 2020
Lewis had represented the Atlanta area in Congress since 1987.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement confirming Lewis’ death.
“Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress,” she began.
“In the Congress, John Lewis was revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol. All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing. May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble,’” she added. “God truly blessed America with the life and leadership of John Lewis.”
Louise and I are heartbroken. Rev. C. T. Vivian passing earlier today and now our dear friend John Lewis. So much to say, but that will have to wait. For the moment I am so sad and simply have no words. pic.twitter.com/P4hAeSnikf
— Doug Jones (@DougJones) July 18, 2020
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn