Georgia congressman, civil rights icon John Lewis dead at 80

David Caplan
July 18, 2020 - 11:25 am

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2011, file photo, President Barack Obama presents a 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Lewis announced Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer, vowing he will stay in office and fight the disease with the tenacity which he fought racial discrimination and other inequalities since the civil rights era. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis has died. He was 80.

"It is with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce the passing of U.S. Rep John Lewis," his family said in a statement. "He was honored 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."

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The statement continued, "He was a stalwart champion in the on-going struggle to demand respect for the dignity and worth of every human being. He dedicated his entire life to non-violent activism ans was an outspoken advocate for equal justice in America. He will be deeply missed."

He reportedly died in Atlanta Friday and had been at home receiving hospice care.

Lewis, who served in the House since 1987, had been suffering from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer since December.

On Saturday, President Donald Trump released a proclamation ordering all flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House, public buildings and grounds, naval vessels and military posts through July 18 "as a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service" of Lewis.

Trump Lewis proclamation
White House

 

Lewis, a civil rights icon, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 from President Barack Obama, who marched with Lewis in Selma, Alabama on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attack.

Lewis said last month that he cried when he watched the video of George Floyd's death.

"I kept saying to myself: How many more? How many young black men will be murdered? It made me so sad. It was so painful," he told "CBS This Morning." "It made me cry."

Lewis endorsed Joe Biden for president in April. He described Biden as "a friend, a man of courage, a man of conscience."

"We need his voice," Lewis said at the time. He also described Biden as "a man of courage, a man of great conscience, a man of faith."

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John Lewis
Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP