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US: Prominent civil rights activist John Lewis dies at 80

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US: Prominent civil rights activist John Lewis dies at 80 US: Prominent civil rights activist John Lewis dies at 80 classical US Rep John Lewis | Reuters

John Robert Lewis, iconic figure in the civil rights movement and longtime US congressman, died on Friday after a six-month-long battle with cancer at age 80. 

Lewis, the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, was a champion in the ongoing struggle to demand respect and dignity to every human being. 

“It is with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce the passing of US Representative John Lewis,” his family said in a statement. “He was honoured and respected as the conscience of the US Congress and an icon of American history, but we knew him as a loving father and brother. He dedicated his entire life to non-violent activism and was an outspoken advocate in the struggle for equal justice in America. He will be deeply missed, the statement read.

Lewis became a prominent leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he became its chair in 1963, and helped organise the March on Washington when Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I have a dream” speech.

America lost another civil rights leader on Friday—Rev Cordy Tindell ‘C.T.’ Vivian, who was 95. The US is faced with dual deaths of these equal rights leaders, as it grapples with a racial upheaval post the death George Floyd, an African-American, in police custody

“Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress” Nancy Pelosi was quoted as saying in a CNN report.  

Lewis, who was elected from Georgia in 1987, held the position till his death. 

“Sometimes when I look back and think about it, how did we do what we did? How did we succeed? We didn't have a website. We didn't have a cellular telephone,” Lewis has said of the civil rights movement.

In 2011, Lewis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from America’s first African-American president Barack Obama. 

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