Civil Rights Icon Congressman John Lewis Dies At Age 80 Following Fight With Pancreatic Cancer
Just hours after the world began mourning the loss of 95-year-old Civil Rights leader Reverend Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, it was announced that another Civil Rights foot soldier, the incomparable proponent of “good trouble,” Congressman John Robert Lewis had passed at the age of 80 on Friday night (July 17). In December of 2019, John Lewis announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. As a result, his public appearances had been minimized as he received treatment. At the time of his diagnosis, the Representative of the 5th District of Georgia vowed to continue to serve in his role as the area’s congressman since 1987 and that he would keep fighting:
I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.
John Lewis had made headlines recently as his name became a trend on Twitter as rumors of his death swirled just six days before his actual passing. WSB-TV, the ABC affiliate in Atlanta, Georgia, reported that his family released a statement confirming his death:
It is with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce the passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis. He was honored and respected as the conscience of the US 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.
Often referred to as the “Conscience of the Congress,” John always made his voice and opinion on numerous controversial issues known. He was an avid supporter of the effort to impeach President Donald Trump and said at the time that if moving forward with the impeachment process was delayed, it would, in fact, “betray the foundation of our democracy.” He even boycotted the inauguration ceremony for President Donald Trump in 2017. Despite their tumultuous history and the fact that some had even called for him not to say anything about the Congressman’s passing, the President posted a brief statement on his personal Twitter page after golfing in sending condolences:
Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence released a statement recognizing the late Representative and his inspiration to future Americans:
John Lewis will be remembered as a giant of the civil rights movement whose selflessness and conviction rendered our nation into a more perfect union and his example will inspire generations of Americans.
The Civil Rights leader was most famously known for his alliance with and work alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and the 1960s. He was there during the infamous Bloody Sunday march in 1965 attempt where he along with Ambassador Andrew Young, and Hosea Williams attempted to walk together with about 600 others from Selma, Alabama to the state seat of Montgomery, Alabama for African-American voting rights. His presence was all over the Civil Rights Movement as he participated in sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, joined with the Freedom Riders in their fight against colored-only sections on city buses, and, notably, he was the youngest keynote speaker at the landmark March on Washington in 1963 when he was just 23 years old.
To commemorate so many of his efforts in the nonviolent fight for justice for African-Americans, a documentary entitled “John Lewis: Good Trouble” was released July 3, 2020. The film boasts rare footage of John in his element as an unapologetic social activist in the areas of civil and voting rights. The documentary also features a present-day interview with John who was, at that time, 79 years old where he recounts his childhood experiences, family life in Troy, Alabama, and his first meeting with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The nation’s flags at the White House as well as in the City of Atlanta have been lowered to half-staff to honor the memory of the late congressman and Civil Rights giant. Celebrities, notable individuals, and regular everyday people have taken to their social media pages to honor the enduring legacy and memory of one of our nation’s greatest leaders. Check out some of what they had to say in their tributes:
We send our condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Congressman John Lewis. May he rest in peace.