The world mourns the passing of a great man John Lewis who died Friday night on the 17th of July 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. In honour of the exemplary life he led, we’re celebrating this civil rights icon who dedicated his life to the service of humanity and the emancipation of Black people in America.

While the impact of his life cannot be summarized in a few pages, we highlight 10 admirable facts about Congressman John Lewis.

1. John Lewis was born John Robert Lewis on February 21, 1940. An American politician and civil rights leader, he was the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020. He was the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. The district he served includes the northern three-fourths of Atlanta. He was a member of the Democratic Party.

2. John Lewis was a teenager when he met civil rights legend the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and until his death Friday night, was the youngest and last surviving member of King’s inner circle. At just 23 years old, as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis helped plan the 1963 March on Washington and was a keynote speaker before Dr King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Watch a snippet of Lewis’ speech HERE.

Young John Lewis with the Late Dr Martin Luther King Jnr.

3. Lewis’ skull was fractured in 1965 during an attempted voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama. By his own count, Lewis was arrested more than 40 times during his days of civil rights activism.

4. Lewis was reelected 16 times, dropping below 70 percent of the vote in the general election only once. In 1994, he defeated Republican Dale Dixon by a 38-point margin, 69%–31%. He ran unopposed in 1996, from 2004 to 2008, in 2014, and again in 2018

L-R: John Lewis, and his wife, Lillian, after he defeated Julian Bond in a runoff election for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District seat in Atlanta. (C) Linda Schaeffer/AP

5. Lewis has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees, including honorary LL.D. degrees from Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and the University Of Connecticut School Of Law.

Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Barack Obama in 2011

6. In addition to his numerous honorary degrees and awards from eminent national and international institutions, John Lewis also received the highest civilian honor of the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It was awarded to him by President Barrack Obama.

7. John Lewis was portrayed by Stephan James in the multiple awards winning 2014 film Selma. He made a cameo appearance in the music video for Young Jeezy’s song “My President”, which was released in the month of Obama’s inauguration. On July 3 2020, a documentary titled John Lewis: Good Trouble which chronicling Lewis’ 60-plus years of activism was released to critical acclaim.

8. In 1961, Lewis became one of the 13 original Freedom Riders. There were seven Whites and six Blacks who were determined to ride from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans in an integrated fashion. At that time, several states of the old Confederacy still enforced laws prohibiting black and white riders from sitting next to each other on public transportation.

9. As the chairman of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Lewis wrote a speech in reaction to the Civil Rights Bill of 1963. He denounced the bill because it did not protect African Americans against police brutality or provide African Americans with the right to vote.

L-R Former U.S First Lady, Michelle Obama, John Lewis and Former U.S President, Barack Obama

10. Also in 1963, as chairman of SNCC John Lewis was named one of the “Big Six” leaders who were organizing the March on Washington, the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech, along with Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph, James Farmer and Roy Wilkins; Lewis was the youngest of the Big Six, being 23 years of age at the time, and the time of his death, he was the last remaining living speaker. John Lewis played many key roles in the Civil Rights Movement and its actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. (Leaders of the march) 1963

Celebrities and Public Figures React to John Lewis’ Death

“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example” – Fmr. US President, Barack Obama

“Farewell, sir. You did, indeed, fight the good fight and get into a lot of good trouble. You served God and humanity well. Thank you. Take your rest.” Human rights activist and daughter of late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Bernice A King wrote on Twitter

“Today we have lost a heroes’ Hero. Thank you God for John Lewis’s life of service. Let us continue to try to walk his walk of truth. Rest in Power” – Mariah Carey

“Today we lost one of the great titans of democracy. It is so sad. President Obama called John Lewis “the conscience of the United States Congress” before he put the medal of freedom around his neck.” – Singer and actor, Barbra Streisand

I had no idea this would be his last public appearance. What an honor it was to capture this moment for him. May he rest in power. 🖤🙏🏾
Photo Credit; @masterwilliams

Photo Credit; Getty Images.

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