President Donald Trump, Alabama officials react to death of Rep. John Lewis

Alabama News

John Lewis Official Photo (Courtesy: johnlewis.house.gov)

(WHNT) Several state and national officials issued statements after the death of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who died Friday night.

Saturday morning, former President Jimmy Carter called Lewis’s leadership “a spirit of love.”

“Rosalynn and I are saddened by the death of Congressman John Lewis. He made an indelible mark on history through his quest to make our nation more just. John never shied away from what he called “good trouble” to lead our nation on the path toward human and civil rights. Everything he did, he did in a spirit of love. All Americans, regardless of race or religion, owe John Lewis a debt of gratitude. We send our condolences and prayers to his family and friends.”

Former President Jimmy Carter

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey tweeted Saturday morning, saying “we’ll forever remember his heroism & his enduring legacy.”

“Our country has lost one of its most beloved Civil Rights leaders. I join my fellow Alabamians & the nation in mourning the death of Rep. John Lewis. He dedicated his life to serving his community & advocating for others. We’ll forever remember his heroism & his enduring legacy.’

Governor Kay Ivey

U.S. Representative Terri Sewell said Lewis “forever changed Selma and this nation.”

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said despite party differences, “as Americans we stood together as brother and sister.”

“As history continues to write about John Lewis, it will highlight a warrior who used a bridge as a simple but powerful reminder that all men and women are created equal. His quiet demeanor was overshadowed by his larger than life boldness. His courageous footsteps were heard around the world. I had the honor of meeting Rep. Lewis at the 50th Anniversary of Selma to Montgomery March. We shared that while we differed in parties, as Americans we stood together as brother and sister recognizing that our freedoms are colorblind. No one has control of the color of their skin, but we all have control of our actions. His actions without violence are etched in history as role modeling equality through peace. Rep. Lewis now lovingly marches in God’s army while we are tasked with loving and working together to end racism through our hearts- to listen, learn and love. May we all continue to peacefully change the world with our own steps as we honor the life of John Lewis.”

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan

U.S. Representative Robert Aderholdt said Rep. Lewis was “always passionate and commanded the floor of the House.”

“I’m sorry to hear of the passing of my colleague, and fellow Alabama native, Congressman John Lewis. My daughter and I had the opportunity to visit Selma with John on the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday back in 2015, and saw up close his passion for Civil Rights.  It was truly an honor to serve with him.  No matter the subject he spoke on, John was always passionate and commanded the floor of the House of Representatives.  My condolences and prayers to his family.”

U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt

Southern Poverty Law Center President and CEO Margaret Huang called Rep. Lewis “a true American patriot.”

“With extreme sorrow, the entire SPLC family mourns the passing of Congressman John Lewis. An Alabama native, he was a transformative figure. He was a hero, a man of extraordinary courage and a true American patriot. On May 4, 1961, the Freedom Riders boarded a bus in Washington, D.C., to travel through the Deep South after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia, which found segregation of interstate transportation, including bus terminals, unconstitutional. The future congressman was one of the brave Freedom Riders. When they arrived at Rock Hill, S.C., a few days later, 21-year-old Lewis was assaulted as he attempted to enter a whites-only waiting room. Before their ride ended, Lewis would be arrested in Birmingham and beaten in Montgomery, Alabama. His response to the assaults showed his strength of character and gave us a glimpse of the person he would become. Congressman Lewis was not only a valiant hero combatting Jim Crow, but he was also a leading figure in the movement for racial justice, pushing Congress and presidents to act with moral integrity against all forms of injustice. His dedication to racial equality and justice was unmatched, and we owe a debt of gratitude to his tireless work to achieve full equality. The SPLC will always cherish his support. Together with the American people, we celebrate the life of John Lewis and recommit to his call to get into ‘good trouble, necessary trouble,’ by standing up to injustice. He embodied the best all of us can become. In his own words, ‘You can do it. You must do it. Not just for yourselves but for generations yet unborn.’”

Southern Poverty Law Center President and CEO Margaret Huang

U.S. Senator Doug Jones said the nation “lost a true American hero today.”

“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.”

U.S Senator Doug Jones

Secretary of State John Merrill reflected on Rep. Lewis’s “legacy of determination, change, and equality.”

“Last night, America lost one of her most beloved and courageous heroes, Congressman John Lewis, who leaves behind a legacy of determination, change, and equality. A native of rural Pike County in Southeast Alabama, Congressman John Lewis grew up experiencing firsthand the difficulties and disparities of racism at the time. Recognizing the need for change, John Lewis set out on a journey to achieve equality for all people through his commitment to non-violent social change. Dedicated to both education and activism, he recruited hundreds to make that change happen through sit-ins at lunch counters and by crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where he so bravely led hundreds more than fifty-five years ago during the March from Selma to Montgomery. Teaching others about the movement that unfolded right here in Alabama, Congressman Lewis was one of our greatest civil rights champions!  John Lewis‘s legacy serves as a reminder of our past and the long way we have come in this struggle and all we have accomplished! However, we can never forget the work to be done and the long way we have to go. He once said, ‘If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.’ And those words still ring true today. During our many visits together, he always left me wanting to do more to ensure that every person, regardless of race, religion, gender, or status, had the opportunity to vote in free and fair elections! These conversations are forever ingrained in my memory. I will always cherish his friendship and the example he set for me and everyone that is interested in leaving our community, state, nation, and world better than we found it! His family, friends, colleagues and all people who desire peace, justice, and equality are in our thoughts and prayers.

Secretary of State John Merrill

President Donald Trump said he was “saddened to hear the news.”

“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”

President Donald Trump

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