John Lewis, the iconic activist of non-violence and civil rights in the United States, a former companion of Martin Luther King, has died at the age of 80 years, announced Friday the House of representatives, of which he was part.
“Today, America mourns the demise of one of the greatest heroes of american history”, wrote the president of the House of representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in a press release.
Ms. Pelosi has described Lewis, a democrat like her, and who was suffering from cancer of the pancreas, as “a titan of the civil rights movement, whose goodness, faith, and bravery have transformed our nation”.
The son of sharecroppers, the African American was 21 years old one of the youngest Freedom Riders (travelers of the freedom) who fought segregation in the transport system of american in the early 1960s. It has become one of the voices of the most respected in the country for justice and equality.
He had failed several times to succumb under the blows of the police, including one in 1965 on the bridge, Edmund Pettus in Selma, Alabama, where he was conducting a walking pacifist of hundreds of activists against racial discrimination. In 2015, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the “bloody Sunday”, he had crossed the bridge alongside president Barack Obama.
Parliamentary since 1986, he was the “conscience of the Congress”, in the words of Nancy Pelosi.
Tributes also came from the republican, including Mitch McConnell, speaker of the Senate, who praised the “civil rights pioneer who did not hesitate to put his life on the line to combat racism, to promote equal rights and place our nation in accordance with its founding principles”.
Despite the cancer, he had made his return to Washington in June perfect storm born of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, to participate in the mobilization of the movement Black Lives Matter against racial discrimination.