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'We Have Lost a Giant': Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, Dies

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Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a Civil Rights icon, died on Friday at 80-years-old after battling cancer — drawing words of remembrance from many.

After being elected in 1986, Lewis served 17 terms in Congress. Prior to that, he rose from poverty and he became a civil rights movement leader. He helped Martin Luther King Jr. organize the March on Washington and Lewis was a member of King’s inner circle. In 1965, he was beaten by an Alabama state trooper while leading hundreds of voting rights marchers from Selma to Montgomery during a peaceful march. That day is known as “Bloody Sunday.” He was arrested over 40 times for civil rights activities between 1960 to 1966.

Lewis shared to the public in December of 2019 that he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.

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Among the many people who offered a tribute to Lewis was former President Barack Obama, who wrote in a statement, “He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”

He later added:

“He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect. And it’s because he saw the best in all of us that he will continue, even in his passing, to serve as a beacon in that long journey towards a more perfect union.”

Obama concluded, “Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did. 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.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described Lewis as “a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation.”

Former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton wrote in a statement, “We have lost a giant. John Lewis gave all he had to redeem America’s unmet promise of equality and justice for all, and to create a place for us to build a more perfect union together.”

They added, “Our hearts go out to his son John-Miles and the entire Lewis family, his able loyal staff, and all who loved and admired him the world over.”

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Several others took to Twitter:

Lewis recently shared a tweet with a photo, marking 59 years since he “was released from Parchman Farm Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson, MS for using a so-called ‘white’ restroom during the Freedom Rides of 1961.”

Lewis wrote in a tweet in June of 2018, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

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