Rep. Richmond Statement on the Passing of American Icon Congressman John Lewis

July 17, 2020
Press Release

New Orleans, LA Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) issued the following statement on passing of longtime congressman, Civil Rights legend, and American hero Representative John Lewis of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District:

“As I painfully mourn the loss of my mentor, colleague, dear friend, and American legend, Congressman John Robert Lewis, I know my words will never be able to do justice to someone of such monumental significance,” said Rep. Richmond. “Congressman Lewis blessed our nation with his endearing presence and through his unwavering commitment to peace, justice, and equality for all. While I struggle to accept this loss, we should all be heartened by the far-reaching impact of his voice, activism, and sacrifices throughout his lifetime of service.

“Congressman Lewis was a leader amongst leaders who always answered the call to serve his community in the face of injustice. As a young boy in rural Alabama, he drew inspiration from the work of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. At the age of 23, he became Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was the youngest person to deliver a keynote speech at the March on Washington in the summer of 1963. His belief in the power of protest and the mobilization of young folks was apparent from his formative years until his last breath. A fearless fighter, he never let intimidation or police brutality stop him from fighting on the frontlines in America’s battle for justice. It was this dogged determination that made way for long lasting, meaningful change in this country.

“Congressman Lewis’s tireless work during the Civil Rights Movement paved the way for the passage of landmark legislation, including the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act. A giant in his own right before assuming elected office, he has been equally influential during his time in Atlanta City Council and most recently in Congress, as well. During my tenure as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, I sought his counsel and wisdom as we set out to take on an administration overtly hostile to the very communities we serve. Above all, Congressman Lewis instilled in his colleagues the importance of fighting to protect what he was willing to die for decades prior. Whether it was inspiring people to get out and vote or reminding Americans about the power of protest by leading a sit-in on the House floor, he made sure that his colleagues aspired to make good on the promise of America and his commitment to forming a more perfect union.

“What drove Congressman Lewis was not complex, it was actually simple. It was the adage of ‘good trouble’ that he coined and often spoke about. At its core, good trouble meant standing up for what is right, organizing, and giving voice to the voiceless no matter how precarious or perilous the circumstances. Good trouble meant leading a march through Selma, Alabama and crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge over 55 years ago only to be severely beaten. That’s who Congressman Lewis was and that is exactly what made him a larger than life hero to so many including me. It is that same spirit that we have seen across the world in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. America must maintain this spirit if we truly want to implement real structural change in our country.

“As Congressman Lewis so poignantly stated, ‘When we see something that's not right, not fair, or not just, we have a moral obligation to speak up and speak out to do something about it.’ At this moment in our nation’s history, those words carry an even deeper meaning. Let us honor his legacy and strive to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice because that is what this moment requires. While change has never been easy, it requires the kind of resilience, perseverance, and strength he exemplified throughout his entire life. As we say goodbye to a deeply beloved and respected friend and colleague, let me extend my deepest condolences, gratitude, love, and strength to his family, friends, staff, and all those whose lives he touched. May his soul rest in peaceful paradise, and may his legacy live forever.”