John Lewis, a civil rights activist 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, has died. He was 80.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis’s passing late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.”
“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague and are heartbroken by his passing,” Pelosi said. “May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble.’”
The condolences for Lewis were bipartisan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Lewis was “a pioneering civil rights leader who put his life on the line to fight racism, promote equal rights and bring our nation into greater alignment with its founding principles. ”
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.
The announcement of his death came just hours after the passing of the Rev. C.T. Vivian, another civil rights leader who died early Friday at 95.
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.
Freedom Riders. Front row, from left: Allen Cason Jr. , Frederick Leonard, Etta Simpson, William B. Mitchell, Ruby D. Smith, John Lewis, Charles Butler, second row, from left: Joseph Carter, Lucretia Collins, Patricia Jenkins, Carl Bush, Catherine Burks, Paul E. Brooks. Stranding, from left: Clarence Wright, Bernard La
Two blood-splattered Freedom Riders, John Lewis (left) and James Zwerg (right) stand together after being attacked and beaten by pro-segregationists in Montgomery, Ala., on May 6, 1961. (Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
Freedom Rider John Lewis with a bandaged head, relaxing and regrouping with fellow Freedom Riders in a safe house in Montgomery, Ala., during the Freedom Rider crisis in May of 1961. (Photo: Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Civil rights leaders hold a news conference in Montgomery, Ala., and announce that the Freedom Rides will continue, May 23, 1961. In the foreground is John Lewis, one of the riders who was beaten. Others, left to right: James Farmer, Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Martin Luther King. Lewis wears bandage on head.
John Lewis, center, national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee explains protective measures to two white students participating in the civil rights movement in Cambridge, Md., July 18, 1963. Lewis, from the Atlanta, Ga., office of the student group, was there to help in the integrationist struggle. On
John Lewis, Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, speaking at the Lincoln Memorial to participants in the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. (Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)
Civil Rights activist (and future politician) John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), in an office, New York, 1964. He reads a document titled “We Shall Overcome; the Authorized Record of the March on Washington Produced by the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership
Civil Rights leaders, including future Congressman John Lewis (third left) and Gloria Richardson (third right), chair of the Cambridge Non-Violent Action Committee, links hands with others as they march in protest of a scheduled speech by pro-segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace in Cambridge, Md., May 1964.
Martin Luther King Jr., (with hat) accompanied by his wife Coretta (right) and John Lewis (far right), leads a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, March 7, 1965. (Photo: AP)
Source: Yahoo News