WASHINGTON • Mr John Lewis, a pioneer of the civil rights movement and long-time member of the United States House of Representatives, died on Friday.
Mr Lewis, a member of Congress from Atlanta who announced last December that he had advanced pancreatic cancer, was 80.
“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise,” former US president Barack Obama said in a statement.
“And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”
Former US president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, in a joint statement, said: “We have lost a giant. John Lewis gave all he had to redeem America’s unmet promise of equality and justice for all, and to create a place for us to build a more perfect union together.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mr Lewis “a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation”.
Mr Lewis, who bore scars from being beaten during some of the seminal civil rights protests, was one of the six main organisers of the 1963 Washington march where Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
Mr Lewis was the youngest speaker at the event.
He brought that same sense of moral responsibility to his work in Congress, including his decision to support the impeachment of President Donald Trump late last year.
“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something,” Mr Lewis said.
“Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’ For some, this vote may be hard. But we have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history,” he said.
Mr Lewis kept up the fight for civil and human rights until the end of his life, inspiring others with calls to make “Good Trouble”.
In 2016, Mr Lewis led a “sit-in” by House Democrats to demand a vote on gun regulations.
He made his last public appearance last month, as protests for racial justice swept the US and the world.
Using a cane, Mr Lewis walked with Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on a street by the White House that Ms Bowser had just renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.
It had just been dedicated with a large yellow mural – large enough to be seen from space – reading “Black Lives Matter”.
Mr Lewis married Ms Lillian Miles in 1968 and they had a son, John. She died in 2012.