ATLANTA — Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon and the last of the Big Six civil rights activists led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died Friday at age 80. He is being remembered by congressional colleagues, civil rights leaders and former presidents as a “titan” of the struggle against racial discrimination.
Former President Barack Obama
“Considering his enormous impact on the history of this country, what always struck those who met John was his gentleness and humility. Born into modest means in the heart of the Jim Crow South, he understood that he was just one of a long line of heroes in the struggle for racial justice. Early on, he embraced the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience as the means to bring about real change in this country, understanding that such tactics had the power not only to change laws, but to change hearts and minds as well."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
“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.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
"I will never forget joining hands with John as members of Congress sang We Shall Overcome at a 2008 ceremony honoring his friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It could not have been more humbling to consider what he had suffered and sacrificed so those words could be sung in that place."
Former President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
“From a small farm in Alabama, to life-risking service in the civil rights movement, to three decades in Congress, he was always ‘walking with the wind,’ steered by a moral compass that told him when to make good trouble and when to heal troubled waters. Always true to his word, his faith, and his principles, John Lewis became the conscience of the nation.”
The Congressional Black Caucus
THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS
“The world has lost a legend; the civil rights movement has lost an icon, the City of Atlanta has lost one of its most fearless leaders, and the Congressional Black Caucus has lost our longest serving member. The Congressional Black Caucus is known as the Conscience of the Congress. John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton
“My friend, role model, and activist extraordinaire has passed. Congressman John Lewis taught us how to be an activist. He changed the world without hate, rancor or arrogance. A rare and great man.”
Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Farewell, sir. You did, indeed, fight the good fight and get into a lot of good trouble. You served God and humanity well. Thank you. Take your rest.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
“Few have had as powerful and inspiring an impact on our country as Congressman Lewis and America is a better, more equal place because of his sacrifice and leadership. Our nation owes so much to this incredible man. We served together in Congress for decades, and I was honored to call him my friend.”
Rep. Maxine Waters
“It is not enough to say he was a revered civil rights icon. He was a man of impeccable integrity who dedicated his life to fighting against racism, discrimination & injustice. John was a true leader who inspired us all to have the courage to fight.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia
“Time and time again he demonstrated moral and physical courage in nonviolent defiance of the white supremacist regime in the South. Throughout his long life, his commitment to full equality for all people never wavered. He will always be remembered with gratitude and admiration.”
U.S. Sen. David Perdue of Georgia
“No one embodied the word ‘courage’ better than John Lewis. As a civil rights icon, John inspired millions of Americans to fight injustice and reject the status quo. Without a doubt, his wisdom and resolve made the world a better place.”
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia
“As a leader in the civil rights movement, he always pushed America to live up to its promise of freedom and equality. Our nation is better because of his leadership and courage. We know his legacy will never be forgotten.”
Stacey Abrams, Georgia politician
“Defender of justice. Champion of right. Our conscience, he was a griot of this modern age, one who saw its hatred but fought ever towards the light. And never once did he begrudge sharing its beauty.”
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, Wisconsin
“John Lewis was an extraordinary man. Enduring violence, racism & hatred, Rep. Lewis never wavered in his fight for equality and justice. He will be remembered for his moral strength and courage. I was honored to serve with Rep. Lewis in Congress. I’m praying for the Lewis family.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin
“John was an amazing man – a civil rights icon, my colleague, and my friend. His achievements as a leader and a legislator will be felt by generations to come. He truly made a difference. Some of my proudest accomplishments in Congress are those when I partnered with John to strengthen the Voting Rights Act to ensure all Americans have access to vote. We made strange bedfellows – a conservative lawyer from Wisconsin and a liberal preacher from Georgia, but I learned a lot from John Lewis and I admire his remarkable life. May he rest in peace."
U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothmann, Wisconsin
“Today, I was saddened to hear of the passing of civil rights leader and Congressman, John Lewis,” said Grothman. “Congressman Lewis was a great leader both inside and outside of the halls of Congress. To him, the civil rights movement wasn’t just a theory or something you read about in a textbook, he lived it, and embodied the spirit of the movement. This was clear every day in his words and actions, courageously fighting for what he thought was right even in the face of adversity. It was an honor to serve with John for his last five and a half years in Congress and I am proud to have called him my friend. My condolences go out to his loved ones. He will be sorely missed.”
State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee
"It is with a heavy heart that I learned of the passing of Rep. John Lewis. After absorbing the news of the earlier passing of C.T. Vivian, many of us feel an overwhelming sense of loss. Out nation ahs benefitted from the courage, sacrifice, and commitment to fair and equitable treatment that was the cornerstone of the lives of these men. Their fight for Civil Rights were our victories. Regardless of race, creed or political ideology, we all are better because they walked among us, marched for us, and believed in us."
The League of United Latin American Citizens
Domingo Garcia - National President
“We have witnessed the passing of one of our country’s greatest civil rights leaders who spent his life advocating for the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable. A true American hero, who I had the honor to work with, has passed to a special place in heaven. What I will always remember about John will be his great humility which made his voice so powerful and his truth so unstoppable. When John Lewis walked into a room, we all knew we stood in the presence of history and nothing or no one would deter this man who stood less than five-and-a-half feet tall, and yet he towered over all in the struggle for justice and righteousness. He was a mentor, a friend and an inspiration to me. America will miss his counsel.”
Sindy Benavides - Chief Executive Officer
“From the streets of Selma, Alabama to the halls of Congress, John Lewis’ life journey lifted our nation. Those who saw him work for more than six decades will never forget how his mere gaze could convey enormous compassion for victims of injustice or just as easily condemn those who abused their power against them. He was beloved by his friends and feared by his political foes. Yet, no one will ever say they didn’t respect him. John Lewis was a man by whom others set their compass on both his integrity and his staunch refusal to compromise when it came to America’s principles of freedom and liberty for all. LULAC has lost a valued and faithful ally who never wavered in standing with us on immigration, voting rights, equality for women and so much more. His legacy will live on for generations. Our hearts and thoughts are with John's family, friends, and staff. March on in justice. ”
Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of civil rights pioneer and freedom loving American patriot Congressman John R. Lewis. Congressman John Lewis was born of sharecroppers in a small, rural town in Alabama, but his life’s impact is one of influencing some of the most important figures in the 20th century in America and the world. His entry onto the world stage began as a student organizing marches and sit-ins, led to him becoming a “Freedom Rider” for justice and equality, and continued with him helping organize the historic “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in August 1963. His organizing took him all over the country and led to him settling down in Georgia, where he began his life’s service in government. Congressmen Lewis’s fierce representation of Georgia’s 5th congressional district for 32 years led to him being dubbed the “Conscience of Congress.” Congressman Lewis leaves a legacy of honor, courage and sacrifice that will forever leave an indelible impression on the conscience of our nation. I pray for his family’s peace and comfort during his transition from labor to reward. Dr. King famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” He is right and Congressman Lewis lived each day of his life helping to bend that arc toward justice just a little bit more. Congressman Lewis now rests with the immortals but thank God he first belonged to us.”