In a rare display of bipartisan support after recently losing a civil rights icon, both Republican and Democratic leaders have joined together in paying homage to the late Rep. John Lewis. After a battle with pancreatic cancer, Rep. Lewis passed away on Friday.
“I first met John when I was in law school, and I told him then that he was one of my heroes,” recalled former President Barack Obama. “Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders. When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly.”
On Saturday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter and wrote, “Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”
Former Vice President and current presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife issued the following statement: “It is rare to meet and befriend our heroes. John was that hero for so many people of every race and station, including us. He absorbed the force of human nature’s cruelty during the course of his life, and the only thing that could finally stop him was cancer. But he was not bitter. We spoke to him a few days ago for the final time. His voice still commanded respect and his laugh was still full of joy. Instead of answering our concerns for him, he asked about us. He asked us to stay focused on the work left undone to heal this nation. He was himself — a man at peace, of dignity, grace and character.”
In a recent statement, Vice President Mike Pence wrote, “Congressman John Lewis was a great man whose courage and decades of public service changed America forever, and he will be deeply missed. John Lewis will be remembered as a giant of the civil rights movement whose selflessness and conviction rendered our nation into a more perfect union and his example will inspire generations of Americans.”
On Saturday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted, “John Lewis inspired millions to fight for justice. His courage helped transform this country. He won’t ever be forgotten by those who believe America can change when the people stand together and demand it. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.”
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following press release: “Congressman Lewis’ place among the giants of American history was secure before his career in Congress had ever begun. This son of sharecroppers in segregated Alabama helped to found and lead the mid-century Civil Rights movement. As a student in Nashville, John organized groundbreaking sit-ins at lunch counters. He was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, assaulted and arrested for insisting on integrated bus travel. And as Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John helped lead and organize the entire March on Washington at age 23 and addressed the massive assembly. John Lewis risked everything. He endured hatred and violence. But he kept working, because he was convinced that our nation had to be better.”
In response to McConnell’s statement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote, “Senator McConnell should honor @RepJohnLewis with more than words, and finally hold a vote this week on the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the key voting protections that John Lewis fought and bled for in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”