Showing posts with label John Lewis dead at 80. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Lewis dead at 80. Show all posts

Saturday, July 18, 2020

NAACP statement on passing of Rep. John Lewis

The NAACP mourns the passing of Congressman John Lewis, a resounding civil rights giant. He fought harder and longer than anyone in our nation’s continuing battle for civil rights and equal justice.

Often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” John Lewis dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. By 1963, Lewis was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he was an architect and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

Along with Hosea Williams, John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of nonviolent philosophy.

John Lewis went on to become a United States Congressman and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1986. Lewis was a member of the influential House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, where he served on the Subcommittee on Health until his death. Congressman Lewis served as Senior Chief Deputy Democratic Whip and sat in a direct line of succession to the number two Democratic leadership position in the House. John Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize. He received the NAACP Spingarn Medal in 2002 and the NAACP Chairman’s Award in 2020.

If we know anything about our dear friend John Lewis, he wanted us to continue the battle for full participation in a democracy that he began long ago with other civil rights icons. On November 3, we can and must honor our beloved John Lewis by casting our ballot and ensuring that our vote is counted, up and down the ballot.

John Lewis was a national treasure and a civil rights hero for the ages. We are deeply saddened by his passing but profoundly grateful for his immense contributions to justice. He used every waking moment of his 80 years to push this country toward more representative democracy and left behind a remarkable model. It is up to us to pick up his mantle and carry on, and we urge the entire nation to join us. As people of all colors are in the streets seeking racial justice, we urge all that can to speak louder and stay a little longer to honor the best warrior for democracy our nation has ever known.

The NAACP extends our sincerest condolences to the family of Congressman Lewis and sends prayers of comfort and strength now and always.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Honors the Life and Legacy of Congressman John R. Lewis

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Honors the Life and Legacy of Congressman John R. Lewis
Mayor Bottoms Orders Lowering of City Hall Flags to Half-Staff 
ATLANTA—Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued the following statement upon the passing of Atlanta’s revered Congressman John Lewis.
“There are no words to describe the tremendous loss that Americans, Atlantans, and I personally feel upon learning of the passing of Congressman John Lewis,” said Mayor Bottoms. “America knew him as a Civil Rights Icon, Congressional Giant, and a moral compass, but I knew him as a friend. The people of Atlanta often called upon Congressman Lewis for counsel, guidance, and assistance with getting into good trouble. No matter how busy his schedule, or important his Washington duties were, he answered. We were privileged to be represented by a leader with both a pure heart and an unshakable commitment to human rights. As we persevere in the modern fight for social justice, we should honor his legacy by continuing to hold on to hope. I pray for his family, his constituents, and all who loved and were impacted by the life of Congressman John Lewis.”
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff immediately on all City of Atlanta facilities until further notice in honor of the late Congressman.
The City of Atlanta’s Congressman Lewis is an American hero and one of the pillars of the Civil Rights Movement. Congressman Lewis was also revered as the dean of the Georgia Congressional delegation whose passionate call to "make good trouble" became a generational rallying cry for nonviolent activism in the pursuit of social justice and human rights.
From his early days as a student activist, an original Freedom Rider, and a founder and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis became a symbol of perseverance and strength even as he endured physical violence and imprisonment. The sit-ins that he organized at segregated lunch counters and peaceful protests that he led, marching across the South, including "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, Alabama, became a beckon of hope in the pursuit of equal rights.
As one of the Civil Rights Movement's "Original Six," this son of an Alabama sharecropper, at age 23, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. During that speech, he implored government leaders to wake up to the evils of segregation, closing with words that still resonate today: "We must say, 'Wake up, America! Wake Up! For we cannot stop and we will not and cannot be patient.”
John Lewis began his political career as a member of the Atlanta City Council and was re-elected 16 times to the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia's 5th Congressional District, where he became known as the conscience of the U.S. Congress. The City hopes his courage, sacrifice, and leadership continue to inspire the best in us and all that America has to offer. 

Rep. Maxine Waters on the passing of civil rights icon John Lewis

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued a statement on the death of her dear friend and civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis (GA-5):

“Today is a sad day in American history. We have lost my dear friend and colleague of nearly three decades, Congressman John Robert Lewis.

“John Lewis was a revered civil rights icon who dedicated his entire life to what became his signature mantra, making ‘good trouble.’ Despite being one of the youngest leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis galvanized and inspired hundreds of his peers to join in the fight for equal rights. He was a founder and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; he organized and led countless marches and freedom rides across the Jim Crow South; and he worked alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the struggle to secure the right to vote and end the demoralizing discrimination, unconscionable violence, and debilitating poverty facing Africans Americans.

“Very few people could have been harassed, arrested more than 40 times, beaten within inches of their lives, and still espouse Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolence, peace, and love. However, these principles were core philosophies to John Lewis, and our nation is forever indebted to him for his humble sacrifices.

“It was John Lewis, clad in a trench coat and a backpack, who fearlessly led 600 people to march from Selma, Alabama across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery, Alabama in support of voting rights. At the bridge John Lewis and the marchers were confronted by local police and Alabama State Troopers and ordered to turn around. When they refused, the police shot tear gas and began beating the nonviolent protesters. John Lewis’ skull was cracked open by a state trooper’s club, and this painful episode became known as ‘Bloody Sunday.’ John Lewis’ sacrifices and bravery on the Edmund Pettus Bridge absolutely led to the passage of the Voting Rights of 1965 shortly thereafter, and I am so proud to have joined him in Selma numerous times over the course of our careers to recognize his sacrifices on that bridge and the ongoing fight to protect the right to vote for African Americans and people of color.

“John Lewis was first elected to Congress in 1986, and he served 17 terms. He distinguished himself as an effective policymaker and true progressive who was relentless in his fight on behalf of the least of these. As a result, he earned the respect of not only his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but elected officials and leaders around the world.

“It was the honor of my life to serve alongside such a kind, courageous, and persistent leader and public servant. I considered John and his late wife, Lillian, dear friends, and my heart is heavy with the magnitude of the loss of one of our nation’s most beloved sons. My sincere prayers and deepest sympathies are with his son, John Miles Lewis, family, friends, staff, and constituents during this difficult time.”

Sen. Kamala Harris statement on the passing of Rep. John Lewis

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) released the following statement via Twitter on the death of civil rights icon John Lewis:

Family of John Lewis releases statement on his death

The family of John Lewis has released a statement announcing the death of the congressman from Georgia.

The statement reads:

"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."

The Congressional Black Caucus Mourns the Loss of Congressman John Lewis

The Congressional Black Caucus released the following statement on the passing of House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman and Congressional Black Caucus Member, Congressman John R. Lewis (GA-05):

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. A fighter for justice until the end, Mr. Lewis recently visited Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington DC. His mere presence encouraged a new generation of activist to “speak up and speak out” and get into “good trouble” to continue bending the arc toward justice and freedom.
The City of Atlanta has lost one of its most fearless leaders. Congressman John Lewis spent his life fighting racism and injustice wherever he confronted it, from boycotts, sit-ins, and other protests in the streets, to championing bold, progressive policies in Congress. Mr. Lewis was born and raised in Troy, Alabama, a segregated town of the Deep South. At an early age, he was inspired by the non-violent activism of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This passion drove Mr. Lewis to dedicate himself and his life to the Civil Rights Movement.
As a student at Fisk University, Mr. Lewis was a part of the Nashville Student Movement and helped organize sit-ins that eventually led to the desegregation of the lunch counters in Downtown Nashville. In 1961, he became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, an integrated group determined to ride from Washington, DC to New Orleans. In 1963, he became the Chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization he helped form.
As Chair of SNCC, John Lewis was one of the “Big 6” leaders of the historical March on Washington on August, 28, 1963, and was the youngest speaker to address the hundreds of thousands marching for jobs and freedom that day.  He also played a key role in the marches from Selma to Montgomery, a campaign against the blatant voter suppression of Black citizens. He joined Hosea Williams and hundreds of civil rights marchers to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” and suffered a fractured skull that day for the right of Black people to register and vote.
For 34 years, Mr. Lewis served Georgia’s 5th district and our country with the same burning desire to ensure America’s promises were accessible to all. He never hesitated to tell the truth about this nation’s history and injustices. In his very first Congress, John Lewis introduced a bill to create an African American history museum in Washington, DC, but the bill was blocked by Senator Jesse Helms for 15 years. But Mr. Lewis persisted, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in 2016 and is by far the most popular museum on the National Mall.
In 2012, John Lewis unveiled a marker in Emancipation Hall commemorating the contributions of enslaved Americans to the construction of the United States Capitol. The marker was the result of literally a decade of work by a special task force led by Mr. Lewis after a bill was found in the National Archives documenting payment for slaves to build the Capitol. Congressman Lewis commented at the unveiling:
“When I walk through Statuary Hall, it means a great deal to me to know that the unusual grey marble columns were likely hewn and polished by slaves in Maryland.  They quarried the stone in Maryland and sailed ships or barges many miles down the Potomac River weighed down by heavy marble columns to bring them to DC. Somehow, they carried them several miles through the streets perhaps using wagons and mules or horses, and then hoisted them up so they are standing as we see them today in the Capitol. The bronze statue sitting on top of the Capitol dome also involved the contribution of slaves.  These men and woman played a powerful role in our history and that must not be forgotten.”
Legislatively, Mr. Lewis championed the Voter Empowerment Act, which would modernize registration and voting in America and increase access to the ballot. He was also an ardent advocate for immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and affordable health care for all. As Chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Lewis helped ensure the efficient implementation of laws related to tax, trade, health, Human Resources, and Social Security. He examined how the tax code subsidizes hate groups and the public health impact of gun violence. Most recently, Mr. Lewis pressed the Trump Administration to quickly deliver the stimulus checks that Congress provided in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr. Lewis continued his practice of nonviolent protest, community organizing, and grassroots activism throughout his tenure in Congress. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Mr. Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States of America. Following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016, John Lewis led Democrats in a 26-hour sit-in on the House floor to demand that the body debate gun control measures. Every year, he led a pilgrimage to Selma to commemorate the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Even his recent health challenges could not keep him from commemorating the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” this year.
Despite more than 40 arrests, brutal attacks, and physical injuries, Mr. Lewis remained devoted to the philosophy of nonviolence in his fight for justice and equality, even to this day, as America faces another reckoning with racism and hundreds of thousands around the world spark a modern-day civil rights movement against police brutality and racial injustice. He taught us to keep our eye on the prize, and that lesson is more crucial than ever. We will keep our eye on the prize of social justice, voting rights, quality education, affordable health care, and economic empowerment for every soul.
The entire Congressional Black Caucus extends our condolences to Mr. Lewis’ family, friends, staff, and the city of Atlanta.

Civil Rights Icon John Lewis dead at 80

John Robert Lewis, the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, to become a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman, has died after a six-month battle with cancer. He was 80.
"It is with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce the passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis," his family said in a statement. "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."
Read more: Civil rights Legend John Lewis dead at 80