Statement of Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey on the Passing of Congressman John Lewis

July 18, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Lewis and Congresswoman Lowey greet President Obama at his 2009 inauguration


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement on the passing of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA5):

“Congressman John Lewis was an American hero.

“Since dedicating his life to the Civil Rights Movement as a young college student and helping found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis has guided us toward the time when justice will truly roll down like water. An original Freedom Rider, he endured angry mobs, death threats, and severe violence, including a brutal beating on Bloody Sunday at the Selma to Montgomery March.

“Congressman Lewis devoted his life to achieving racial and economic equality, and he spoke often of a moral obligation to get in “good trouble.” Always a proponent of peace and non-violent protest, he literally gave his blood, sweat and tears to end racial segregation. Following the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, he devoted himself to registering people to vote and worked his entire life to ensure that basic right for all Americans. Throughout his 34 years in Congress, he advocated for the nation’s marginalized and was the conscience of our institution.

“There was no stronger advocate for Black Americans than John Lewis, and I was fortunate to have him as a colleague and a friend. Not only have we worked together on many important issues, but we also participated in a sit-in together on the House floor to protest inaction on gun violence prevention and danced together at the CBC’s Gospel Extravaganza. I was honored to sit next to Congressman Lewis at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, a presidency made possible in no small part by John Lewis’ activism and leadership.

“I was so moved that even while fighting cancer, Congressman Lewis participated in protests in Washington on Black Lives Matter Plaza. John Lewis showed us what patriotism is. To love your country is to acknowledge its imperfections and work to improve conditions for the most vulnerable.

“John Lewis’ endurance, persistence and optimism – despite so much pain and injustice – will continue to inspire us to strive to achieve the equitable and just society for all that he fought so hard to attain. We all mourn his passing, express our deepest sympathy to his family, staff, and loved ones, and honor his legacy by committing to carrying on his life’s work of achieving equal justice for all Americans. In the words of John himself, ‘If not us, then who? If not now, then when?’

“I am honored to have served with him in the United States Congress and am grateful for his personal warmth and friendship.”

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