Barack Obama pays homage to John Lewis: “I put myself on his shoulders” – National


Former US President Barack Obama joined dozens of politicians and activists to pay tribute to longtime MP and civil rights icon John Lewis who died Friday night at the age of 80 after a battle against cancer.In an essay published shortly after the news was confirmed, Obama called Lewis “one of my heroes” and highlighted not only the history of the Georgia Representative’s notable activist, but his influence as well. on future generations of protesters, including the current Black Lives Matter movement.

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“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that he could keep his promise,” Obama wrote. “And over the decades, he has not only given himself entirely to the cause of freedom and justice, but has inspired the generations that followed to try to live up to his example.

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Obama said he first met Lewis as a law student, and met him again after he was elected to the US Senate in 2004, when “I told him I was standing on his shoulders. “.

“When I was elected President of the United States, I kissed him at the inauguration stand before being sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. facts, ”he wrote.

John Lewis diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

John Lewis diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

Lewis had endorsed Hillary Clinton over Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, only to switch to Obama after seeing her broad support among black voters. He later said that Obama’s election “showed the world America’s true promise.”

In 2011, Obama awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Four years later, on March 7, 2015, Obama and Lewis held hands as they and dozens of others crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of the protest known as name of Bloody Sunday.

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Lewis led the initial march and was wounded in the head when white police and others violently attacked up to 600 black protesters. The Voting Rights Law was enacted later that year.

President Barack Obama, fourth from left, walks hand-in-hand with Amelia Boynton Robinson, who was beaten on “Bloody Sunday,” as they and the First Family and others, including Representative John Lewis, D-Ga, to the left of Obama, walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala,. for the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights movement on Saturday March 7, 2015. On the far left is Sasha Obama and on the far right is former First Lady Laura Bush. Adelaide Sanford is also sitting in a wheelchair.

(Photo AP / Jacquelyn Martin)

Obama said the last time he and Lewis appeared together was at a virtual town hall that brought together young activists who had helped lead protests around the United States over George’s death. Floyd while he was in a police strangling. He said Lewis “could not have been prouder” of the wave of this group and others who were running for political office and fighting for change.

“I told her that all of these young people – of all races, all walks of life, all genders and all sexual orientations – were her children,” Obama wrote. “They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they only heard of his courage through history books. “

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Obama was far from alone in making Lewis an icon of the civil rights movement and “conscious of Congress” after his death.

Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – with whom Lewis organized the 1963 Washington March and helped lead the nonviolent civil rights movement of the 1960s – was among those who have often cited Lewis. cited call for “good problems” when fighting for equality.

“You have served God and humanity well. Thank you. Take your rest, ”she said.

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” Thank you for your support. Thank you for your activism. Thank you for your lessons, ”said Nathan Law, pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong.

His post retweeted a video of Lewis and his colleague Tom Suozzi sharing messages of support for the movement the law helped organize.

“John Lewis gave all he had to redeem America’s broken promise of equality and justice for all, and to create a place for us to build a more perfect union together,” said Bill and Hillary Clinton in a joint statement.

“We will miss him so much, but we will always be grateful that he lived to see a new generation of Americans take to the streets in search of his long-time ‘beloved community’.”

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The majority leader in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell, a Republican, also paid tribute to Lewis, who won praise and support on both sides of the aisle, calling him “an American hero.”

“Congressman Lewis’s place among the giants of American history was secure even before his career in Congress began,” he said in a statement. “The history of our great nation has only leaned toward justice because great men like John Lewis took it upon itself to fold it.”

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“John Lewis was an icon who fought with every ounce of his being to advance the cause of civil rights for all Americans,” said Senator Kamala Harris. “I am devastated for his family, friends, staff – and everyone whose lives he touched.”

Stacey Abrams, Democrat Activist and Founder of Fair Fight, a Voting Rights Group in the Home State of Lewis, Georgia, called Lewis “a griot of this modern age,” a reference to western storytellers and poets. – Africans who have helped preserve the history of their culture.

“I loved him and will miss him,” she said.

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—With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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