While this news is nothing short of heart-breaking, the pain we all feel at this loss is evident of the deep love, appreciation, and respect we have for John Lewis. As a son of Troy, Alabama, he loved our country with all of his heart and set out to make it a stronger, more democratic, more equal, more just nation for every person. To persevere toward that end in the face of the hate and violence he so often faced is a testament to his strength of both character and heart. John was a dear friend to my wife Louise and me, and we are both profoundly grateful to have had him in our lives.
John’s life has long represented an unbroken thread from a painful past to a more hopeful future. He gave us all a reason to hope. More importantly, he gave us the courage to pursue the bright future we all want for our children. As we begin to grapple with a world without him, we must face the challenges of this moment with the same grit and perseverance he embodied. We are charged with picking up the torch and continuing the fight for justice and equality that was his life’s work. John was called the ‘conscience of Congress.’ May the conscience of all in Congress and the Senate be awakened by his passing to finish John’s efforts to restore integrity to the Voting Rights Act.
John often encouraged getting into a little ‘good trouble for a righteous cause’ and he pursued the cause of racial justice with love, and as a uniter, not a divider. He taught me that heroes walk among us, and that true heroes are those that bring us together. We lost a true American hero today.