Civil Rights Activist John Lewis Dies at 80
Prominent civil rights leader and U.S. politician, John Lewis, died tonight of complications from Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.
Lewis was born into a family of sharecroppers right outside Troy, Alabama. He garnered inspiration from leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the men and women who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in 1955 and 1956.
Gathering courage from the civil rights leaders who preceded him, Lewis dedicated his life to social change by way of rigorous organization and legislation, from the quiet streets of the Alabama Black Belt all the way to the halls of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Lewis fought ardently for rights for Black people in the South and beyond. He was an influencer of change who sought to deliver liberties to those who were disenfranchised in the 1950s and 1960s.
His rise as a prolific civil rights advocate came from him orchestrating several initiatives that contributed to the success of the Freedom Rides and walked with other southerners, politicians and civil rights advocates over the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.
Perhaps Lewis' most notable legacy is his participation in the 1963 March on Washington, in partnership with King, who delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital.
Lewis went on to serve as a representative for Georgia's 5th Congressional District for 17 terms. He used his young life as a civil rights activist to guide his tenure as a politician, fighting for civil liberties and human rights for his constituents.
For his work on the civil rights front, Lewis was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.
His presence in Congress is one that will feel quite vacant as fellow government leaders mourn his death, and his contributions to the advancement of human rights and racial equality will be forever cherished.