US congresssman John Lewis, civil rights icon, dead at 80

WASHINGTON (AFP) – John Lewis, the non-violent civil rights warrior who marched with Martin Luther King Jr and nearly died from police beatings before serving for decades as a US congressman, has died at age 80, House colleagues said Friday (July 17).

“Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

Civil rights warrior John Lewis was one of the US' most powerful voices for justice and equality.
Civil rights warrior John Lewis was one of the US’ most powerful voices for justice and equality.PHOTO: REUTERS

She described Lewis, who was recently battling pancreatic cancer, as “a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation.”

The son of sharecroppers, the African-American Lewis was among the youngest of the original Freedom Riders who fought segregation on the US transportation system in the early 1960s, eventually becoming one of the nation’s most powerful voices for justice and equality.

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