ATLANTA (Usa), 18 July 2020- Civil rights icon and 17-term Rep. John Lewis of Georgia died Friday in Atlanta, The Associated Press has reported. He was 80.
Lewis, the son of Alabama sharecroppers whose fight for racial equality spanned seven decades, had waged a long battle with advanced pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis he shared in December, 2019.
“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement confirming the death.
“May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble,’” she said, using a favorite quote of the lawmaker.
First elected in 1986 and lauded as the “conscience of Congress,” Lewis, a staunch Democrat, commanded respect from both sides of the aisle.
But he forged his reputation in the 1960s, most notably during the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, during which he suffered a skull fracture at the end of a police billy club.
“There is still work yet to be done,” he urged during a 50th anniversary event at the bridge in 2015.
“Get out there and push and pull until we redeem the soul of America.”
As one of the original Freedom Riders, in 1961 he joined with black and white protesters in challenging segregation at a Mississippi bus station, spending 37 days in a sweltering, Jackson jail after using a “whites only” bathroom.