Civil rights legend John Lewis remembered as ‘a fighter with a tenacious spirit'

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 5:53 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 5:54 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Memorials and tributes poured in over the weekend for Georgia Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, dying at age 80.

In New York last night, city officials, community leaders and advocates held a vigil to honor his life, while a memorial for him continues to grow around a mural depicting him in Atlanta.

And in Alabama, a petition to rename an iconic Selma bridge for him now has more than 400,000 signatures.

Lewis marched across Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 on what’s now known as “bloody Sunday.”

In the nation’s capital, flags have been lowered to half-staff at the White House and other federal buildings

And people in the community say although Lewis may be gone, they hope his messages and positive energy continue to live throughout our area.

"He was a fighter with a tenacious spirit, but he was also gracious and kind-hearted," said his youngest brother, Henry Grant Lewis.

"While we grieve the loss of this legend, we are blessed to know that he touched so many people on every corner of the globe."

In Augusta, historian Corey Rogers of the Lucy Craft Laney Museum said:

“It’s rare that we get someone who has one foot in one world and one foot in the other. So he was an activist to his core, but he was also a public servant that took his knowledge of activism and translated it into policy.”

His family members thanked the public for the outpouring support and prayers they’ve received, but haven’t mentioned any plans yet for funeral arrangements.

What’s ahead?

This afternoon, the state Democratic Party plans to name a nominee for his spot on the November ballot. He served Georgia’s 5th Congressional district since he was elected to Congress in 1986.

In accordance with state law, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has set in motion that process.

Because Lewis had already won his party’s nomination for the general election, state law calls for the state executive committee of the Democratic Party of Georgia to appoint a replacement nominee. The party has until 4:30 p.m. today to inform Raffensperger’s office on whether it intends to do so.

Gov. Brian Kemp will call a special election to fill the remainder of Lewis’ current term, which ends in early January.

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