A year to the day after the death of former U.S. Rep. John Lewis, family, friends, colleagues and more reflected on the legacy of the civil rights icon whose fight for racial justice began in the Jim Crow south and ended in the halls of Congress.
“When you see something that is not fair, not right, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something. You have to do something,” Marcus Tyner said Saturday, quoting his uncle at the U.S. Navy christening of the USNS John Lewis.
Five other members of the Lewis family, alongside senior U.S. lawmakers, gathered for the christening ceremony in San Diego.
“This ship will be a beacon to the world reminding all who see it of the persistence and courage of John Lewis,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., said at the ceremony.
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U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who attended the ceremony, called Lewis a “great American” who “dedicated himself to a more perfect union” and “set a great example for all of us.”
“He was my friend,” Carter said in a recorded video statement. “He inspired us, and he had faith in the American dream.”
Pelosi and dozens of other Democratic lawmakers called on their colleagues Saturday to honor Lewis’ memory by passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
“Today marks one year without my dear friend, John Lewis, a stalwart in the fight for voting rights,” U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., wrote on Twitter. “We ought to honor his memory and life’s work by passing the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and protecting the right to vote.”
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., the first Black man elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia who presided over Lewis’ funeral at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church last summer, called Lewis a “national hero.”
“I lost a friend and parishioner. John Lewis spent his life fighting to ensure our country lived up to its founding creed, and I’m so honored for the opportunity to carry on his legacy,” Warnock wrote on Twitter.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said Lewis “taught us not to lose hope – that this is the struggle of many lifetimes.”
“He taught us to get in #GoodTrouble,” Demings wrote on Twitter. “One year already. We miss you.”
Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared an image of a young John Lewis to social media.
“As we celebrate the king of good trouble – his legacy of perseverance; his ability to find moments of joy and lightness in the midst of real struggle – we should also recommit ourselves to building the future he envisioned,” Obama wrote on Twitter.
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U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., said Lewis was “a leader with a humble heart whose tenacity will be remembered for generations.”
“While John & I didn’t always agree on politics, he was always a gracious friend & colleague,” Ferguson wrote on Twitter.
Nashville, Tennessee, honored his legacy by formally renaming a downtown street this weekend as Rep. John Lewis Way – more than six decades after employees at a restaurant on the street used water hoses, wet brooms and a fumigation machine to try and drive Lewis away from the lunch counter.
Lewis was expected to be honored with a candlelight vigil at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., Saturday night. Other “Good Trouble” vigils were planned in cities across the country.
Lewis died on July 17, 2020 at 80 years old. He had been suffering from Stage IV pancreatic cancer.