Loss of John Lewis brings solemn reflection from CSRA to Capitol Hill

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 5:24 AM EDT
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Tributes from both sides of the aisle continue for the late Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who died Friday.

Lewis leaves a legacy filled with fighting for equality and justice, and his impact can be felt and seen in our region through groups like BLACC, formerly known as CSRA Black Lives Matter.

“As the older civil rights generation dies out, there are new leaders that are coming about. In the next 10-15 years, we’re gonna see the next Lewis, Vivian and Lowery making a name for themselves and blazing their own path,” said Corey Rogers of the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History in Augusta.

In Washington, lawmakers on Capitol Hill bowed their heads and stood in silence Monday for the man who served Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for 33 years.

A black cloth now drapes his office entrance.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi choked up during a TV interview as she recalled Lewis and their last conversation the day before he died of pancreatic cancer. Pelosi, D-Calif., said Lewis “always worked on the side of the angels and now he is with them.”

When she gaveled the House to order, Pelosi called on everyone to rise “in a moment of silence in remembrance of the conscience of the Congress.”

Leaders from both parties in the Senate took to the floor of the chamber to reflect on Lewis’ life and legacy

“That’s who John Lewis was deep in his soul, a man on a mission who forcefully but gently led us all to do more and do better,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ala., said: “Whether the day’s issues found him on your side of a policy debate or on the opposite side, his warmth, friendliness, and dedication to his neighbors in Georgia’s 5th District made an impact on everyone.”

Also in the news ...

  • Georgia Democrats selected state Sen. Nikema Williams to replace Lewis on the ballot in November. Williams says she knows that’ll be a tough seat to fill, but that she is humbled by the nomination. “Nobody could possibly fill the shoes of Congressman Lewis. His leadership and fighting spirit is needed now more than ever in this country,” she said. “We need someone who is not afraid to put themselves on the line for their constituents in the same way Congressman Lewis taught us to, and I would be honored if you chose me to be that person.” She will face Republican Angela Stanton-King on the ballot in november.
  • Calls are growing nationally to honor the late Rep. John Lewis by putting his name on the Alabama bridge where he and other voting rights demonstrators were beaten 55 years ago. But the idea is being met with resistance in Selma, the city where “Bloody Sunday” occurred. Some say renaming the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the Georgia congressman would dishonor local activists who spent years advocating for civil rights before Lewis arrived in town in the 1960s. Others fear tourism would be hurt if the name were changed. Alabama legislators would have to approve any change.
  • Mourning the death of civil rights hero John Lewis, Democrats are urging the Senate to take up a bill of enduring importance to the veteran lawmaker who died Friday: protecting and expanding the right to vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and other Democrats say the Senate should take up a House-passed bill to restore key sections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and rename it for Lewis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Lewis a “great man” who helped bend the nation’s history toward justice, but Republicans appear unlikely to bring up the voting rights bill for a Senate vote.

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