Civil rights icon and 17-time Congressman John Lewis has died at the age of 80. Lewis announced his Stage-4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in late 2019. Lewis died just hours after another Civil Rights legend, Rev. C.T. Vivian passed at the age of 95.

The son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis began fighting for social justice at a young age. He was instrumental in organizing the student sit-ins of the 1960’s, and would go on to become one of the founding members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1960. Lewis worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr, as was one of the “Big 6” of the Civil Rights Movement. Lewis was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington.

Lewis at the March on Washington in 1963.

Lewis also participated in the Freedom Rides, and was brutally beaten at the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, infamously known as Bloody Sunday. Lewis was arrested over 40 times. He would go on to serve in Congress, representing the 5th Congressional District of Georgia.

Congressman Lewis receiving the Congressional Medal of Freedom

Lewis’ extraordinary life as been depicted in books and film including the film “Selma,” and most recently the “Good Trouble” documentary. Flags were ordered to fly at half staff in his honor at the United States Capital and in the city of Atlanta. He received several honors and accolades including a 2011 Congressional Medal of Freedom.

Rep. Lewis will truly be missed.