John Lewis, a leading figure of the civil rights movement who endured brutal beatings as he led non-violent protests to end racial segregation in the 1960s, and then went on to a career in Congress as one of its most enduring moral voices, died on Friday. He was 80.
Democratic leaders announced his death. Lewis revealed in late December that he was undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.
“Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing. May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble.”
He was one of the original Freedom Riders, who trekked across the South in a bus ride to desegregate public transportation and accommodation and, along with a dozen others, were met by angry mobs. He was assaulted a number of times, including a beating in a Greyhound bus station in Montgomery where he was hit in the head and knocked unconscious.
“And I said, ‘Dr. King, I am John Robert Lewis.’ I gave my whole name. But he still called me the ‘boy from Troy,'”
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