Representative John Lewis, the congressman who led the civil rights movement before joining the congress had died at the age of 80. He alongside the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the “Big 6” leaders that intensified the movement and successfully organized the historic 1963 March towards Washington. The Georgia Democrat would later represent Atlanta in congress. He was diagnosed with the Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and he disclosed the news in Dec 2019.
“I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life,” he said in a statement released at the time. “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”
During the civil rights movement, Lewis served as one of the founding members of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and then assume the charge of its chairman from 1963 to 1966.
Lewis was the architect of the March on Washington for jobs and Freedom, the rally at which Dr. King delivered his historic I Have a Dream speech. He was the last surviving from the camp of the Marchers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed John Lewis’ death though in a post on her social media account.
She wrote that Lewis “was a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation”, and that as a congressman he was “revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol”.
“Every day of John Lewis’s life was dedicated to bringing freedom and justice to all,” she said. “As he declared 57 years ago during the March on Washington, standing in 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 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.”