Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke

BROOKLYN, NY– Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09)  issued the following statement honoring the life and legacy of activist, leader and politician Congressman John Lewis (GA-05):

“On behalf of the people of New York’s 9th Congressional District, the Clarke family and myself, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the family, friends and loved-ones of the Honorable Congressman John Lewis. America has lost one of its greatest heroes. He was a great patriot who put his very life on the line in the pursuit of justice in the nation he loved.  He made it his duty to disrupt the status quo, to ‘get in the way’ and to demand civil rights and justice for Black people of the South and by extension the poor and disenfranchised across the country. He often referred to his pension for civil disobedience as ‘good trouble.’ His courage and bravery in the face of violence and cruelty was truly heroic.”

“Growing up as the son of Alabama sharecroppers, Representative John Lewis saw and experienced the pervasive impact of racism in the Deep South firsthand. His experiences compelled him to reach out to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and become fully engaged of the Civil Rights Movement, staging sit-ins in Nashville as a Fisk University student, rising to become chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), taking part in the Freedom Rides to desegregate the south and leading one of the most prolific and effective protest movements in American history.”

“On March 7, 1965, John Lewis was beaten within an inch of his life by police officers while leading hundreds of marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. He was determined to obtain voting rights for Black people at all costs. John often expressed and  deeply believed that the right to vote was sacred. Despite the brutal attack, he never let up on his quest, the fight for justice. He was elected and sworn in to serve in the House of Representatives in 1986.”

“Throughout his tenure, Congressman Lewis was a fierce advocate for the protection of civil rights, voting rights, human rights and he never hesitated to speak out against racism and injustice. I count it an honor and a privilege to have served the past 13 years and 7 months with this living legend and civil rights icon as my friend, mentor and colleague. As a direct beneficiary of his iconic leadership, I will never forget being moved by our common vision to fight for common sense gun law reforms and participating in the legendary 25 hour sit-in on the House floor when Republicans refused to take up gun control legislation.”

“He was an icon in Congress and a moral compass in the midst of us all. Indeed. Congressman John Lewis the ‘conscience of Congress.’ Though I viewed him as a “Giant of a Man”, he always displayed an authentic sense of humility that was almost divine. You could not be in his presence without feeling a tremendous sense of honor and reverence for the sacrifices he made while striving to create a more just civil society and by extension a just nation. There are not enough words to describe the pain that comes from such a loss. However, I have found solace in knowing John Lewis fought the good fight, he finished his race and he kept the faith.  He is on the express train to heaven.”

“The best tribute that I can and must pay to my colleague, the Honorable Congressman John Lewis is to use every moment and opportunity from this day forward to continue his legacy by ‘never giving in, never giving up, making good trouble’ and doing my part to advance our beloved community. My prayers are with the Lewis family, friends and loved ones. May Congressman Lewis rest in power and eternal peace.”

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