Former U.S. President Barack Obama has joined dozens of politicians and activists in paying tribute to John Lewis, the long-serving congressman and civil rights icon who died Friday evening on the age of 80 after a battle with most cancers.
In an essay launched shortly after the information was confirmed, Obama referred to as Lewis “one among my heroes” and highlighted not solely the Georgia consultant’s notable activist historical past, but additionally his affect on future generations of demonstrators, together with the present Black Lives Matter motion.
John Lewis, U.S. congressman and civil rights chief, dies at 80
“He liked this nation a lot that he risked his life and his blood in order that it’d dwell as much as its promise,” Obama wrote. “And thru the many years, he not solely gave all of himself to the reason for freedom and justice, however impressed generations that adopted to attempt to dwell as much as his instance.”
Obama stated he first met Lewis as a legislation scholar, and encountered him once more after his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, when “I informed him that I stood on his shoulders.”
“After I was elected President of the USA, I hugged him on the inauguration stand earlier than I used to be sworn in and informed him I used to be solely there due to the sacrifices he made,” he wrote.
John Lewis recognized with pancreatic most cancers
Lewis had endorsed Hillary Clinton over Obama throughout the 2008 Democratic presidential major, solely to change to Obama after seeing his widespread help amongst Black voters. He later stated Obama’s election “confirmed the world the true promise of America.”
In 2011, Obama awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the very best civilian honour of the USA.
4 years later, on March 7, 2015, Obama and Lewis held arms as they and dozens of others marched throughout the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., to mark the 50th anniversary of the demonstration that grew to become often called Bloody Sunday.
Lewis led that authentic march and suffered a head harm when white cops and others violently attacked as much as 600 Black demonstrators. The Voting Rights Act was signed into legislation later that yr.
Obama stated the final time he and Lewis appeared collectively was throughout a digital city corridor that gathered younger activists who had helped lead protests across the U.S. within the wake of George Floyd’s demise whereas in a police chokehold. He stated Lewis “couldn’t have been prouder” of the wave of that group and others who had been operating for political workplace and preventing for change.
“I informed him that every one these younger individuals — of each race, from each background and gender and sexual orientation — they had been his youngsters,” Obama wrote. “They’d realized from his instance, even when they didn’t realize it. They’d understood by him what American citizenship requires, even when they’d heard of his braveness solely by historical past books.”
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Obama was removed from alone in lionizing Lewis as an icon of the civil rights motion and “the aware of Congress” following his demise.
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Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — with whom Lewis organized the 1963 March of Washington and helped lead the non-violent civil rights motion of the 1960s — was amongst many who cited Lewis’ oft-quoted name for “good hassle” when preventing for equality.
“You served God and humanity effectively. Thanks. Take your relaxation,” she stated.
“Thanks on your help. Thanks on your activism. Thanks on your classes,” stated Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Legislation.
His message retweeted a video of Lewis and fellow Rep. Tom Suozzi sharing messages of help for the motion Legislation has helped manage.
“John Lewis gave all he needed to redeem America’s unmet promise of equality and justice for all, and to create a spot for us to construct a extra excellent union collectively,” Invoice and Hillary Clinton stated in a joint assertion.
“We’ll miss him a lot, however we’ll all the time be grateful that he lived to see a brand new technology of People take to the streets searching for his lengthy sought ‘beloved group.’”
U.S. Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, a Republican, additionally paid tribute to Lewis, who earned reward and help from either side of the aisle in Congress, calling him “an American hero.”
“Congressman Lewis’ place among the many giants of American historical past was safe earlier than his profession in Congress had even begun,” he stated in an announcement. “Our nice nation’s historical past has solely bent in direction of justice as a result of nice males like John Lewis took it upon themselves to assist bend it.”
“John Lewis was an icon who fought with each ounce of his being to advance the reason for civil rights for all People,” Sen. Kamala Harris stated. “I’m devastated for his household, mates, employees — and all these whose lives he touched.”
Stacey Abrams, a Democratic activist and founding father of Truthful Combat, a voting rights group in Lewis’ dwelling state of Georgia, referred to as Lewis “a griot of this contemporary age,” a reference to West African storytellers and poets who helped protect their tradition’s historical past.
“I liked him and can miss him,” she stated.
—With information from the Related Press and Reuters
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