President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to distinguished Americans at a ceremony in the White House in Washington, DC.

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John Lewis dies: Cuomo, Obama’s and more stars honor the icon

The beloved U.S. congressman was a pioneer in the civil rights movement

Representative John Lewis passed away at the age of 80 on Friday, July 18. The son of sharecroppers famously survived police brutality during the milestone 1965 march in Selma, Alabama. He went on to become a major voice of the civil rights movement, always stressing the importance of nonviolence. Unfortunately, the longtime U.S. congressman lost his six-month battle with cancer. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, confirmed his passing with a statement. Her words were followed by sentiments from prominent figures like  Andrew Cuomo  and  Barack Obama , as well as major celebrities like Viola Davis.

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Rep. John Lewis passed away at the age of 80

“Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress,” the California Democrat said. His family also confirmed the sad news in a heart-wrenching note: “It is with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce the passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis.”

“He was honored and respected as the conscience of the US Congress and an icon of American history, but we knew him as a loving father and brother,” they continued. “He was a stalwart champion in the on-going struggle to demand respect for the dignity and worth of every human being. He dedicated his entire life to non-violent activism and was an outspoken advocate in the struggle for equal justice in America. He will be deeply missed.”

John openly shared that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer after a routine checkup in late December of 2019. “I have been in some kind of fight - for freedom, equality, basic human rights - for nearly my entire life,” he said at the time. “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.” In a symbolic twist, of fate John died on the same day as 95-year-old civil rights leader the Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian.

 Learn more about John’s legacy by reading incredible tributes from some of today’s most influential people: 

Andrew Cuomo