BY: WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC NEWS
World leaders, politicians and celebrities alike are paying homage the civil rights icon following the news of his death.
Lewis died seven months after a routine medical visit revealed that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus confirmed the news of his death.
He represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District since 1987.
Here’s a look at how politicians, celebrities and world leaders are mourning Lewis’ death:
Former President Barack Obama
“America is a constant work in progress. What gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further — to speak out for what’s right, to challenge an unjust status quo, and to imagine a better world. John Lewis — one of the original Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia for 33 years — not only assumed that responsibility, he made it his life’s work,” Obama, who awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, said in a statement.
“In so many ways, John’s life was exceptional. But he never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country might do. He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect,” Obama’s statement continued. “And it’s because he saw the best in all of us that he will continue, even in his passing, to serve as a beacon in that long journey towards a more perfect union.”
Former President George W. Bush
“Laura and I join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of Congressman John Lewis. As a young man marching for equality in Selma, Alabama, John answered brutal violence with courageous hope. And throughout his career as a civil rights leader and public servant, he worked to make our country a more perfect union. America can best honor John’s memory by continuing his journey toward liberty and justice for all,” Bush said in a statement.
Former President Bill Clinton
“John Lewis gave all he had to redeem America’s unmet promise of equality and justice for all, and to create a place for us to build a more perfect union together. In so doing he became the conscience of the nation,” Clinton tweeted.
Former President Jimmy Carter
“Rosalynn and I are saddened by the death of Congressman John Lewis. He made an indelible mark on history through his quest to make our nation more just. John never shied away from what he called “good trouble” to lead our nation on the path toward human and civil rights. Everything he did, he did in a spirit of love. All Americans, regardless of race or religion, owe John Lewis a debt of gratitude. We send our condolences and prayers to his family and friends,” the former president said via a statement issued from the Carter Center.
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,” the organization said in a statement. “John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus. A fighter for justice until the end, Mr. Lewis recently visited Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington DC. His mere presence encouraged a new generation of activists to “speak up and speak out” and get into “good trouble” to continue bending the arc toward justice and freedom.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a longtime colleague of Lewis, said the civil rights icon was “one of the greatest heroes of American history.”
“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,” Pelosi said in a statement Friday night.
“Every day of John Lewis’s life was dedicated to bringing freedom and justice to all. 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,” her statement continued.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
“John Lewis was a true American hero and the moral compass of our nation. May his courage and conviction live on in all of us as we continue to make good trouble for justice and opportunity.
Rest in power, John,” Warren said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
“From marching in Selma to serving in the House, Representative John Lewis spent his life fighting for civil rights for every single American,” Schumer tweeted. “He is an American hero and a giant. And we are all better for the “good trouble” he made. Rest in peace, John.”
Martin Luther King III
“John Lewis was an American treasure. He gave a voice to the voiceless, and he reminded each of us that the most powerful nonviolent tool is the vote,” King, whose father was a close friend to Lewis, said in a statement Friday. “Our hearts feel empty without our friend, but we find comfort knowing that he is free at last.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook
“We have lost an American hero. John Lewis guided us toward a more righteous world. He marched in Selma, he marched on Washington—he marched for us all. His life’s work shaped our history and his legacy inspires us to continue the march for racial equity and justice,” the Apple CEO tweeted.
Philanthropist Bill Gates
“This is a great loss for America, and for everyone who believes in making the world a more just place. John Lewis not only saw that our country could be better–he never stopped working to make it that way. We need leaders like him more than ever,” Gates said in a statement Friday.
Former Senator and 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,” Hillary Clinton said in a joint statement with former President Bill Clinton.
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,” McConnell said in a statement Friday night. “Dr. King famously said ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ But progress is not automatic. Our great nation’s history has only bent towards justice because great men like John Lewis took it upon themselves to help bend it. Our nation will never forget this American hero.”
Sen. Kamala Harris
“It was an honor to once again join Congressman Lewis this year in Selma, Alabama in March for what would be his final walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where just 55 years ago, Lewis was among those beaten by state troopers as they bravely marched from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote. I was moved by his words: ‘On this bridge, some of us gave a little blood to help redeem the soul of America. Our country is a better country. We are a better people, but we have still a distance to travel to go before we get there,"” the California senator said in a statement Friday.
“We are grateful that John Lewis never lost sight of how great our country can be. He carried the baton of progress and justice to the very end. It now falls on us to pick it up and march on. We must never give up, never give in, and keep the faith,” she said.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of John Lewis. His life-long mission for justice, equality and freedom left a permanent impression on our nation and world. The NAACP extends our sincerest condolences to his family, and we send prayers of comfort and strength to all,” the organization said in a statement.
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