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18 Jul, 2020 07:41

Rep. John Lewis, iconic civil rights leader, dead at 80

Rep. John Lewis, iconic civil rights leader, dead at 80

Longtime congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis has passed away at the age of 80 after a months-long battle with cancer, his family announced.

The Georgia Democrat, who served in Congress for more than three decades, was diagnosed in December with stage-four pancreatic cancer. “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,” Lewis’ family said in a statement announcing his death.

Lewis, a colleague of Martin Luther King Jr, was one of several keynote speakers at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was during this event that King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. 

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The activist later played a prominent role in the historic 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, and suffered a fractured skull after being attacked by police. He remained active in politics, winning a seat representing Georgia’s 5th congressional district in 1987.

The lawmaker hailed Barack Obama’s election as a major victory for racial equality. In 2011, Obama awarded Lewis with the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He made headlines after accusing Donald Trump of being “illegitimate” and colluding with Russia to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, a theory which was later dismissed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

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