John Lewis

Conn. Leaders React to Death of U.S. Rep. John Lewis

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People paid great heed to John Lewis for much of his life in the civil rights movement.

Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died at the age of 80.

He was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington which spoke shortly before the group’s leader, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

"[Lewis] was an iconic American hero. So genuine and authentic in every sense of the word," Congressman John Larson (D-CT 1st District) said. "He epitomized the teachings of Ghandi and the teachings of his spiritual advisor, Martin Luther King. He led from his heart and with conviction and was unwavering to his last breath."

Several local leaders are remembering Lewis following his death.

“John Lewis’s moral center never wavered in its intense fidelity to justice, decency and kindness," U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT 2nd District) said. "He advised friends and colleagues ‘to give it your all’ in the pursuit of that goal. History will judge that John did indeed ‘give his all’ throughout his extraordinary life.”

In Lewis' three decades-long congressional involvement, he carried with him the ideas laid forth by Martin Luther King Jr., according to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd District).

“The lessons John Lewis taught me, and the wisdom he shared with the Congress have made this institution and this country a better place. He led us in the sit-in movement in the well of the House to end gun violence. As John always said, ‘never be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble.’ I will carry his words and his wisdom with me forever. My dear friend, John Lewis, you were a guiding light, you showed us the way," she said.

"He never sought the spotlight. He always did what was right," Larson said.

Conn. Gov. Ned Lamont said flags will be at half-staff beginning immediately until sunset on the date of interment, which has not been determined yet.

"On behalf of the State of Connecticut, I thank Congressman John Lewis for the decades of service he gave to our nation, and the impact he made throughout the entire country in the ongoing effort to bring positive change in the face of injustice," Lamont said.

NBC Connecticut & The Associated Press
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