Civil rights leader and U.S. congressman John Lewis passed away on Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 80.
Lewis, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a key figure in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, passed away a year after confirming he was battling stage four pancreatic cancer.
He was a Democrat, who represented a majority Black district covering most of Atlanta, Georgia.
Lewis, left, is pictured with (L-R) civil rights leader C.T. Vivian, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and Lester McKinnie at Fisk University, an HBCU in Nashville on May 05, 1964. Rev. C.T. Vivian died this week in Atlanta at age 95.
Lewis was one of the ‘Big Six’ civil rights leaders, which included Martin Luther King, Jr., and he helped organize the historic 1963 March on Washington.
Upon news of his death on July 17, representatives from civil rights group the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) tweeted that they were “deeply saddened,” noting: “His life-long mission for justice, equality and freedom left a permanent impression on our nation and world. The NAACP extends our sincerest condolences to his family, and we send prayers of comfort and strength to all.”
Blood-splattered Freedom Riders, John Lewis (left) and James Zwerg (right) stand together after being attacked and beaten by pro-segregationists in Montgomery, Alabama on May 20, 1961.
In a statement, former President Barack Obama said he had spoken with Lewis after a virtual town hall with a group of activists following the death of George Floyd.
Obama added that Lewis could not have been prouder of their efforts, writing, “a new generation standing up for freedom and equality”.
“Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did,” he said. “And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders – to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.”
The White House praised Lewis’ legacy on Twitter, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered flags at half-staff in honor of Lewis.
Rep. John Lewis was an icon of the civil rights movement, and he leaves an enduring legacy that will never be forgotten. We hold his family in our prayers, as we remember Rep. John Lewis’ incredible contributions to our country.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) July 18, 2020
President Trump, who arrived at his Virginia golf course around 9:15 a.m. Saturday — minutes after Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted about Lewis, did not acknowledge the civil rights leader’s death on Twitter.
Lewis’ death comes a week after a U.S. Congresswoman prematurely tweeted that he had died on July 11.
“It’s only rumors,” Michael Collins told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He is resting comfortably at home.”
Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, who initially tweeted Lewis had died, apologized for her error.
“We deeply regret a previous tweet based on a false news report.” According to AJC, “a blog that focuses on news about historically black colleges & universities” also falsely reported that Lewis was dead on July 11.