US civil rights champion, John Lewis has passed away on Friday July 18, 2020. The US congressman, aged 80, excelled at what he liked to call “good trouble” — standing up against racial injustice to forge a better nation.
The African-American icon marched with Martin Luther King Jr, was nearly beaten to death by police, and later as a sitting congressman was arrested multiple times for protesting genocide or leading immigration reform sit-ins.
Lewis was a sharecropper’s son whose fights for justice helped define an era, and whose moral authority as an indomitable elder statesman left a permanent imprint in Congress.
He was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in late 2019. Many public and political figures have since shared their condolences including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said “Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history.”
She further described Lewis as “a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation.”
Lewis clashed with President Donald Trump on multiple occasions — boycotting his inauguration and citing Russian interference in the 2016 election to question his legitimacy.
Lewis was just 21 when he became a founding member of the Freedom Riders, who fought segregation of the US transportation system in the early 1960s, eventually becoming one of the nation’s most powerful voices for justice and equality.
He was the youngest leader of the 1963 March on Washington, in which King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. Barrack Obama presented Lewis with the Medal of Freedom, among the nation’s highest civilian honors, at a White House ceremony in 2011.
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