JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Public figures around the state are paying homage to the late civil rights icon and U.S. Representative John Lewis.
Lewis passed away in Georgia on Friday night at the age of 80-years-old.
Who was John Lewis?
John Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the civil rights movement.
He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Lewis went on to have an illustrious career in Congress. In 2011, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama.
In 2018, Lewis attended the grand opening of the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, in which he gave the keynote address.
“As long as I have breath in my body, I will speak up, and speak out,” Lewis told the crowd. ”And I will find a way to get in the way, and get in trouble - good trouble, necessary trouble.”
The news of his death has prompted a great response from public figures in the state:
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker:
“Congressman John Lewis was a leader who challenged the status quo and helped change our nation for the better. It was an honor to speak alongside him at the Ole Miss dedication of the James Meredith statue in 2006. Gayle and I were honored to participate in a pilgrimage last year to tour civil rights landmarks in Alabama and to march across the Edmund Pettus bridge with this icon of the movement. He was a principled gentleman and a friend. He will be missed.”
U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson:
“I am deeply saddened by the death of the passing of my colleague and brother, U.S. Rep. John Lewis. We are never truly prepared by the death of a loved one. Congressman Lewis was a man that was not afraid to speak truth to power and stand for righteousness. John was our moral conscience who selflessly guided us all. Our nation is better because of his years of service and commitment to make America live up to its promises. May God comfort his family, friends, and staff during this difficult time. “
U.S. Representative Michael Guest:
“Although my time with Congressman Lewis in the House was short, I’ve always respected him as a defender of civil rights and as an American leader in advancing justice for all. He will be missed and my prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones.”
State Senator Derrick Simmons:
“On July 7th, 1961, Rep. John Lewis was released from Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi after 37 days in prison on a charge of “disorderly conduct” — that is, refusing to follow segregation law. [On] June 2020, [the Mississippi Legislature] voted that oppressive flag down.”
State Representative Jeramey Anderson:
“Congressman John Lewis is and will always be a true American hero. Your dedicated service continues to be an example we should all aspire to reach. Thank you for your service.”
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba:
“May we pay tribute to your life by mustering a fraction of your courage to continue this fight. Rest well, dear brother. We are indebted to you.”
NAACP President Derrick Johnson:
“Thank you for a life well lived and for setting an example for all. Rest in power, Congressman. "
WLBT Anchor Maggie Wade:
“One of the greatest honors and highlights of my life was meeting Congressman John Lewis...Rest In Peace. You have more than earned your rest.”
WLBT Anchor Howard Ballou:
“My heart is heavy tonight. God has called another civil rights soldier and an American hero home. Thank you for getting into “good trouble” for all of us, Rep. John Lewis. Rest now. You are sorely missed.”