Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a hero and an iconic civil rights activist, has died at the age of 80.
The hero served in the House of Representatives since 1987. Before entering US politics, Lewis championed desegregation and was one of the original Freedom Riders, a group of civil rights activists who rode interstate buses through the South to demonstrate against segregated bus terminals.
Before his death, Lewis was the last surviving speaker of the 1963 March on Washington. Throughout his tenure in Congress, Lewis became one of the most progressive lawmakers to represent a southenr district and soon developed a reputation for stirring up what he referred to as “good trouble.”
“I was inspired to get in trouble. I was inspired to get in the way,” Lewis said during a commencement address to Bates College’s Class of 2016. He added that Martin Luther King Jr. inspired him to “stand up, to spea up, and speak out.”
“And I got in the way, I got in trouble,” Lewis said. “Good trouble, necessary trouble.”
“You have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, when you leave here, to go out and seek justice for all,” he added. “You can do it. You must do it.”
Lewis revealed that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in a statement in December 2019.
In the statement, he said he learned about his diagnosis during a routine medical visit that month. He added that he would continue to serve his constituents in Georgia’s 5th Congressional District while undergoing treatment.