DNC Chair Tom Perez and DNC Black Caucus Chair Virgie M. Rollins released the following statement after the passing of U.S. Congressman and legendary civil rights leader John Lewis:
John Lewis is everything we aspire to be as people, as leaders, and as a party. He taught us how to dream, how to work, how to sacrifice, and of course, how to make good trouble. He modeled a profound humility and a limitless ability to forgive in the face of even the most heinous acts. His zeal for justice was only matched by his capacity for compassion. The last living speaker from the March on Washington, he provided a bridge from how far we’ve come and a road map to where we still need to be.
From beatings in Rock Hill to bloodshed in Selma, John Lewis risked his life to bring America closer to its founding ideals. He sat in for justice and stood up for equality, he marched for jobs and rode for freedom. And for three decades, he continued to wage the battle for civil rights in Congress – fighting to expand health care, reduce gun violence, and protect the sacred right to vote.
While many espouse the virtues of justice or a fidelity to true equality, it is the rare leader who inspires them in millions. John Lewis was one of those leaders. That crisp Sunday morning when he set foot on the Edmund Pettus bridge he knew what lay ahead. He understood that racism’s fists and segregation’s billy clubs would very well beat him to within an inch of his life, and if he survived he would likely wake up in a jail cell. But he stepped forward anyway, knowing full well the carnage that awaited him. He sacrificed himself so his country he loved so dearly could one day be worthy of such an act. The words of our constitution may have been written by revolutionists in 1776 but they were given meaning by a revolutionary in 1965.
In a moment where we have been driven apart, in a nation that feels as divided as it has ever been, let us allow John Lewis to bring us together one more time. Allow his memory to continue to lead us toward that more perfect union. His legacy reminds us that we are truly one nation, but it also demands that we continue to work toward completing our unfinished business, his unfinished business: Justice.
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