America has Lost a Hero with the Passing of Rep. John Lewis
Statement of Aunna Dennis, Common Cause Georgia Executive Director
For folks in the south and of the African diaspora, we lost a giant and a cornerstone of civil rights. We also lost a friend and a mentor, someone who always pushed us to become better versions of ourselves.
When you were in dialogue with Congressman Lewis he never put on airs, he felt like your neighbor and family member. He was one with the people and of the people. He never shied away from difficult conversations with his constituents, and always honored a seat at the table for those who usually had to kick down doors to be heard.
When I was a teenager, he taught me how to do a 30 second elevator speech and a proper handshake. He taught us all to “make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
The video of him dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” is how I want to remember him. “Nothing can bring me down.”
Rest in power, Congressman John Lewis. Rest in Peace.
Statement of Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause
America has lost one of its greatest heroes. Rep. John Lewis spent his life fighting injustice, and this nation owes him an enormous debt of gratitude. Through decades of tireless and selfless work, Rep. Lewis left the United States a far better and more just nation than the one he was born into.
From the bloody civil rights marches in the Jim Crow South to the 116th Congress, John Lewis never stopped working to help this nation live up to its potential. He always knew we could be a more perfect union, and he never stopped working to make it so.
John Lewis risked his life and shed his blood to fight injustice in the Jim Crow South. His leadership in the civil rights movement and his courage in the face of bigotry, hatred, and violence helped to spur Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and other pieces of landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s. His fight against injustice eventually led him to the U.S. House of Representatives where colleagues referred to him as the “conscience of Congress.” He was a reminder to them and to all of us of our potential to be better, to be kinder, and to be more forgiving of others.
John Lewis has served as an inspiration to countless Americans battling intolerance and injustice. He never paused and rested on his laurels, not even after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. This Congress, Lewis helped lead the fight to pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act, to expand access to the ballot box, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and reduce the influence of big money in politics. He also played a key role in H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to repair the damage done to the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision. To date the Senate has refused to act on either bill. Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered kind words on the passing of John Lewis, calling him a hero; but Sen. McConnell could offer the civil rights icon no greater tribute than to move those two pieces of legislation forward.
Our nation is diminished by the loss of John Lewis, but it is stronger because of his work and his example which will never leave us. He stood up for the underprivileged, gave a voice to the voiceless, and called out injustice wherever he saw it. We will draw inspiration from John Lewis’ life, and we will continue his fight to allow this nation to live up to its great potential. He would hope for nothing less from us.