Congressman John Lewis dies
In 1965, police knocked the then-25-year-old civil rights leader to the ground and fractured his skull as he led hundreds of protesters across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Nationally televised images of the incident, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” helped spur opposition to racial segregation. John Lewis, who died on Friday at age 80, later turned to politics and went on to serve 33 years in Congress. The Democrat representing much of Atlanta announced in December 2019 he had advanced pancreatic cancer, saying, “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”
What is Lewis’ legacy? The Troy, Ala., native was the youngest and last surviving member of the Big Six civil rights activists led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1986, Lewis was one of the most liberal members of Congress. But he had some bipartisan success with legislation, including a bill creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2003.
Lewis’ wife of more than 40 years, Lillian Miles, died in 2012. Their son John Miles Lewis survives them.
Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read J.C. Derrick’s report on how Lewis and then-Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., worked together to pass legislation to establish the African American museum in Washington.
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