HOUSTON – Local leaders in Houston and Texas react to the passing of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis. The 80-year-old Civil Rights icon passed away Friday after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer in Atlanta.
“To the young people: you must go out and push and pull,” Lewis previously said.
Lewis’s legacy is being shared by those he touched. He was the son of sharecroppers and believed non-violent action could create meaningful change. He was arrested dozens of times, became one of the original freedom riders, and helped organize the March on Washington. Lewis also invested his time mentoring and empowering young leaders.
“Congressman John Lewis: gladiator, fighter...advocate for human right civil rights,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
“He had this unshakeable belief that gave everyone around him hope and optimism, and so I was so privileged to work with him,” US Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher said. “I came to know him as a student. I was a history major, and I learned about him when in high school.”
Fletcher said Lewis took her under his wing and helped her with her campaign. Lewis impacted her leadership. Fletcher was in tears but said his legacy will continue to live.
“I think there is so much we can do to honor him and his legacy,” Fletcher said. “This morning, I kept thinking about him saying, ‘When you see something that’s not right, when you see something that’s not fair and not just, speak up and speak out.”
That is what Lewis did. He worked to organize the marches from Selma to Montgomery, which inluded the confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge where marcher were met by Alabama State Troopers.
“He could not wait to improve and restore voting rights. He kept pressing,” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said.
People from all walks of life and all political affiliations mourn Lewis’ death.
“To say John Lewis was an icon or a hero is an understatement,” said Senator Ted Cruz. “I am humbled to have known John and to have heard his deep wisdom firsthand. Heidi and I are lifting up in prayer his family, his loved ones, and all of America as we mourn the loss of a good and great man.”
“John Lewis has left an indelible mark on the hearts of not only those in his home state of Georgia but all over our nation and across the world,” said Senator John Cornyn. “He will be remembered for many things, but his tireless work as a civil rights leader and dedication to fighting for the oppressed changed the course of history... Sandy and I will be praying for his family and all those who were touched by his life as we mourn this collective loss.”