Civil rights leader, representative John Lewis, passed away Friday. He was 80 years old. His death was confirmed by a statement from House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. She called him “One of the greatest heroes of American history.” Born on February 21st, 1940 John Lewis came from a humble upbringing in Troy, Alabama. From there, Lewis arose to become an influential leader to the Civil Rights Movement. He was arrested 40 times between 1960 to 1966 for nonviolent protesting and marching for the Civil Rights Movement. He was savagely beaten several times, often by southern police. Lewis spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. He also endured a beating by Alabama state troopers for marching for the simple right for to vote in 1965.
Conscience of the Congress
Despite, violent opposition, John continued to passionately fight for justice and racial equity. Although John, as a young boy wanted to become a minister, he eventually chose to run for public office. John Lewis was elected as a congressman for the state of Georgia since 1986. The Georgian Democrat was eventually affectionately called the ‘Conscience of the Congress.’
Lewis was also anti-war, opposing the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and fought diligently against the Iraq War. He also routinely voted against increases to military spending. His passion for civil and racial equity did not wane in congress. John Lewis was arrested 5 more times as a U.S. Congressman.
Lewis was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then President Barack Obama in 2011. This is the highest honor that can be earned by an American civilian. The two later marched in Selma on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attack. On December 29th he announced that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. John Lewis had a long, celebrated career in and outside of Congress.
When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.John Lewis 1940-2020