Local leaders respond to the death of Rep. John Lewis

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(WIVB) – Civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis has died at 80 years old.

MORE: John Lewis, lion of civil rights and Congress, dies at 80

Local and state leaders have expressed their condolences on Lewis’ passing.

Mayor Byron Brown, City of Buffalo

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman John Lewis. He stood on the front lines in the fight for equal rights and was a champion for positive change in our Country. Congressman Lewis was a brilliant example for Black leaders and a hero to the disenfranchised. He was the moral conscience of the US Congress.  He will be sorely  missed, please join me in remembering his life and legacy.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

“John Lewis was one of the greatest men this country has ever known – a man of unimpeachable integrity, wisdom, courage, and morality. He was our conscience. And I know I speak for the entire family of New York when I say we are devastated by this loss.

“It’s especially painful to lose Congressman Lewis at a moment when we need him most — when division, fear, and anger are rampant and when we’re trying to figure out how to rebuild our country better than we were before. He lived his life speaking for all of our better angels, and we will miss his singular voice.

“But as we continue working to realize Congressman Lewis’ ‘beloved community,’ I find comfort in knowing his legacy — of principle, faith, and the righteousness of good trouble — lives in the hearts and actions of the countless Americans who were inspired by him and loved him.

“My thoughts are with Congressman Lewis’ family today, especially his son, John-Miles.”

Assemblymember Carl E. Heastie, Speaker of the New York State Assembly

“It is with great sadness that I join my colleagues – and the nation – in mourning the death of Representative John Lewis.

A champion of the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis dedicated his life to the fight for racial equality and basic human rights. He led the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, where the images of the brutal beating he endured outraged the nation and stirred support for the Voting Rights Act. Eight days later, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.                                                          

While his contributions are immeasurable, like so many Americans, he knew that our work was not done. Representative Lewis was deeply moved by the global demonstrations following the death of George Floyd and how inclusive the fight for racial justice has become. In his absence, we must honor his legacy by continuing the momentum of the fight for equality.

His actions opened the door for so many Americans, including myself. With the passage of the Voting Rights Act, John Lewis transformed the political landscape for African Americans, allowing people of color to not only participate in elections, but to represent their communities in government as elected officials.

As a member of Congress, he maintained the highest level of integrity and never faltered in following his conscience. He was truly an American hero and a political role model. I am eternally grateful for his dedication to racial equality, and will continue to honor his legacy here in New York.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

“Congressman John Lewis was an American legend, whose courage and leadership in the civil rights movement and the House of Representatives laid the foundation for a more equal and just future. It was a tremendous honor to work alongside John Lewis on many important issues, from fighting discrimination to expanding voting rights. While today our country mourns the loss of an icon, John Lewis’ legacy will live on in every American who believes in and fights for freedom and justice.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James

“The world mourns the loss of a hero, Congressman John Robert Lewis. From a young age, John Lewis saw the perils of an unjust country and committed and risked his life to changing it. From his days leading the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to the halls of Congress, John Lewis fought to ensure that liberty and justice were truly for all. He reminded all of us that the most powerful nonviolent weapon we have is the power to vote.

“We will continue to follow the example of the great John Lewis by voting, fighting voter suppression at every turn, and standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. And of course, by getting into good and necessary trouble.

“The world was made better by Congressman Lewis, and his spirit lives on in each of us who continue the fight for a more equitable nation. Rest in power.”

Dr. Teresa Miller SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Chief Diversity Officer

“SUNY joins the rest of America in mourning the passing of civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. His courage and leadership served as an inspiration for a new generation of young civil rights activists who joined in the struggle for civil and human rights, and laid the foundation for today’s ongoing fight for social and racial justice.

“Congressman John Lewis’s fortitude and moral clarity was legendary and places him among the pantheon of American heroes like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Rosa Parks. He was truly a living legend while with us, and now takes his place among the stars to forever be remembered and loved.”

New York State Democratic Chairman Jay S. Jacobs

John Lewis was an American hero.  His peaceful work to secure equal treatment under the law for all people during the Civil Right’s movement saw him physically attacked and arrested more than 40 times.  Such adversity never deterred John Lewis.  The courage, compassion, and leadership he demonstrated during his illustrious career as a public servant is second to none.  John Lewis made the world a better place, and losing such an heroic figure during these divisive times is particularly painful.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this difficult time.

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