The American congressman John Lewis, the last of the great pioneers of the fight for civil rights in the United States, has died this Friday at the age of 80 after succumbing to pancreatic cancer that was diagnosed last December, according to The Democratic leader of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has announced.
The Georgia representative and advocate of peaceful activism was the last survivor of the six main organizers of the historic march for the rights of the black population in Washington D.C. in 1963, the scene of the speech “I have a dream”, by the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, together with A. Philip Randolph, John Farmer, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young and King himself.
Lewis also participated in another march that went down in the annals of the country’s history, that of Selma, in 1965, in the state of Alabama, where he was seriously injured in the head by a thump that a police officer gave him during the assault. of the security forces against assistants on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“John Lewis was a titan of the civil rights movement whose kindness, faith and courage transformed our nation,” Pelosi has applauded in his statement of condolences, to which several political, social and cultural activities of the country.
Lewis’s family described him as “an unconditional advocate in the ongoing struggle to demand respect for the dignity and worth of every human being,” who “devoted his entire life to nonviolent activism and was an outspoken advocate in the struggle for equality of justice in the United States. “
Lewis has served in the United States House of Representatives since 1987, where he was sometimes known as the “conscience of Congress.” He often voted and spoke out against US military interventions, including the Iraq War.
His activism continued even as he battled the cancer that has claimed his life. On January 5, Lewis issued a statement condemning the US drone attack that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
“I want to be clear in my unequivocal condemnation of yesterday’s unauthorized military attack,” he said. “I have warned many times that war is bloody, expensive and destroys the hopes and dreams of a generation. Not learning from the lessons of history means that we are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past,” he lamented.
Lewis also lent his voice to racial protests in recent months in the United States against police brutality following the death of Black Floyd George Floyd, albeit again under the banner of nonviolent activism. “We have been denied justice for a long time, but riots, looting and fires are not forms. Get organized. Protest. Vote.”
Lewis’ wife Lillian died on New Year’s Eve 2012. They are survived by a son, John-Miles.