WASHINGTON - MARCH 17: Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) is photographed in his offices in the Canon House office building on March 17, 2009. (Photo by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images)

John Lewis, civil rights icon and congressman, dies at 80

The Democratic representative announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December



Joseph Neese
July 18, 2020 4:19AM (UTC)

John Lewis, the icon of the civil rights movement who served in Congress for more than 30 years, died on Friday. He was 80 years old.

Lewis announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., confirmed the death of her colleague in a statement.

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You can read Pelosi's full remarks below:

"Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress. 

"John Lewis was a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation – from the determination with which he met discrimination at lunch counters and on Freedom Rides, to the courage he showed as a young man facing down violence and death on Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the moral leadership he brought to the Congress for more than 30 years. 

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"In the halls of the Capitol, he was fearless in his pursuit of a more perfect union, whether through his Voter Empowerment Act to defend the ballot, his leadership on the Equality Act to end discrimination against LGBTQ Americans or his work as a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee to ensure that we invest in what we value as a nation.

"Every day of John Lewis' life was dedicated to bringing freedom and justice to all. As he declared 57 years ago during the March on Washington, standing in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial: 'Our minds, soul, and hearts cannot rest until freedom and justice exist for all the people.' How fitting it is that even in the last weeks of his battle with cancer, John summoned the strength to visit the peaceful protests where the newest generation of Americans had poured into the streets to take up the unfinished work of racial justice. His visit with Mayor Bowser, the mayor of Washington, painted an iconic picture of justice.

"In the Congress, John Lewis was revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol. All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing. May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make 'good trouble, necessary trouble.'

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"God truly blessed America with the life and leadership of John Lewis. May it be a comfort to his son John-Miles, his entire family, Michael Collins and his entire staff that so many mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time."


Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is the Managing Editor of Salon. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Civil Rights Democrats Georgia John Lewis Nancy Pelosi Politics

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