Civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis dies aged 80

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Rep John Lewis, a leader in the civil rights movement and later US congressman, has died at the age of 80.

Lewis was one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders, which included Martin Luther King Jr, and helped organise the historic 1963 March on Washington.

As a congressman he was a Georgia Democrat, and represented a neighborhood which covered most of its capital Atlanta.

In December 2019 Lewis announced that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 carcinoma .

“I are in some quite fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life,” he said during a statement released at the time. “I haven’t faced a fight quite just like the one I even have now.”

During the civil rights movement, Lewis was one among the founders of the scholar Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), then became its chairman from 1963 to 1966.

He co-organised and spoke at the advance Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the rally at which Dr King delivered his historic I even have a Dream speech.

Lewis was the last surviving speaker from the march.Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis’s death during a statement posted on her website and on social media.

She wrote that Lewis “was a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravado transformed our nation”, which as a congressman he was “revered and beloved on each side of the aisle and each side of the Capitol”.

“Every day of John Lewis’s life was dedicated to bringing freedom and justice to all or any ,” she said. “As he declared 57 years ago during the advance Washington, standing within the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial: ‘Our minds, souls, and hearts cannot rest until freedom and justice exist for all the people.’

“How fitting it’s that even within the last weeks of his battle with cancer, John summoned the strength to go to the peaceful protests where the most recent generation of usa citizens had poured into the streets to require up the unfinished work of racial justice.”

Upon news of his death, civil rights group the NAACP tweeted that they were “deeply saddened”.

“His life-long mission for justice, equality and freedom left a permanent impression on our nation and world,” the organisation said. “The NAACP extends our sincerest condolences to his family, and that we send prayers of comfort and strength to all or any .”

Former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren tweeted that Lewis “was a real American hero and therefore the moral compass of our nation”.

Lewis’s death comes on an equivalent day because the death of fellow civil rights leader C T Vivian at the age of 95. Vivian helped organise the liberty Rides – a protest to integrate buses within the south – and later went on to steer the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Source: bbc news

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