Longtime Congressman and Civil Rights Legend John Lewis Passes at 80

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The former U.S. representative John Lewis lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on Friday, July 17.

John Lewis was a well-established, outspoken civil rights activist who was forced to tackle racial adversity throughout his life. He came from humble beginnings: His parents were struggling sharecroppers but Lewis persevered and rose to prominence as a leading civil rights figure and longtime congressman. As he forged his name as an American hero, he weathered racial discrimination and hardship. Lewis infamously endured a brutal police beating during a 1965 rally in Selma, Alabama. In his later years, he fought an agonizing battle with cancer.  

Prominent figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama dedicated powerful, poignant tributes to the civil rights hero.

The American icon died on the same day as fellow civil rights hero the Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian, who was 95. The deaths of these two immensely influential Black men come at a time where we, as a nation, are struggling to champion and protect Black Americans. These deaths come at a time where harrowing headlines announcing the murders of innocent Black men, women, and children are almost a daily occurrence.   

Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a global push for heightened Black visibility and acceptance, and an increase in the representation and prominence of Black voices. John Lewis and Rev. Cordy Tindell spearheaded the fight for Black visibility long before Black Lives Matter gained popularity. Thanks to both men and other civil rights activists, many charitable companies and concerned civilians have since stepped up and pledged their allegiance to this racial justice campaign. Today we honor their memory by continuing to do better and reaching for true racial equity.