Remembering John Lewis: Congress mourns loss of longtime colleague, civil rights icon

Georgia

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — It was a somber start to the week in Congress as lawmakers paid respects to one of their own.

“I ask that all members rise for a moment of silence,” Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) said Monday.

The moment of silence was in honor of Rep. John Lewis. The 80-year-old Georgia Congressman, who spent much of his life fighting for racial equality, died Friday after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was the last survivor of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders of the 1960s.

“I first met John Lewis in 1968 in Atlanta Georgia at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) said.

Lawmakers like Butterfield and Georgia Republican Buddy Carter praised Lewis as the “moral compass” of Congress.

“It’s certainly a great loss to Georgia but also to the nation,” Carter added.

Voters first elected Lewis to represent his Atlanta, Georgia district in 1986. Georgia Republican Congressman Doug Collins was just an intern at the time.

“We ended up riding the same elevator almost every morning together,” Collins said.

He added that Lewis “leaves a legacy of caring for others.”

A black drape was placed over Congressman Lewis’ door on Capitol Hill. Members passed by all day leaving notes or snapping photos.

“Let’s give real meaning to John Lewis’ life,” Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said Monday.

Some Democrats say they hope to honor his memory by passing voting rights legislation.

“We can rename HR4 the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020,” Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) proposed.

The Alabama Democrat said her bill restores provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a bill Lewis shed blood for on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

“John was a giant among the giants,” Sewell added.

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