America has lost an iconic son and a moral giant. Freedom rider. Marcher. Conscience of the nation. Throughout the course of his remarkable life John Lewis showed us how to dream of a better, more just world and how to make that “beloved community” a reality. He was the last of a generation that truly changed this country and brought it closer to its founding ideals. So much of what we take for granted too often today is as a result of his life’s work. The nation in which he grew up and that he helped to change is unrecognizable to us now. He helped to end a system of American apartheid and made opportunities available to the next generation that he was routinely denied. I am a part of that generation that stands on his broad shoulders. On the fiftieth anniversary of John Lewis’ march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, an African American President and an African American Attorney General walked with him. Neither of us would have held those positions without his work, without his courage.
John Lewis was always there for me and for my family in times of great joy and of great sorrow. I had the opportunity to speak with him shortly before his passing and I hope I made clear to him all that he has meant to me. I hope every American will understand what he has meant to them. He was beaten — but was always unbowed. He exhibited uncommon courage in the face of unspeakable violence. He demonstrated remarkable grace to those who showed him true hate. He was a great American. We must resolve to make our collective memory of John Lewis a living, active one. We must finish that journey toward justice that he led for so long.
John Lewis fought the good fight, his was a life well led. May he now rest in deserved peace.