WASHINGTON, DC – Today, after the passing of U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA), U.S. Senator Jack Reed paid tribute to Congressman Lewis as a national hero who changed the trajectory of U.S. history.

Congressman Lewis was the last living member of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights movement who led the fight for desegregation and racial equality in America along with Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young.

“John Lewis is a true American hero and an enduring inspiration to all.  He confronted violence, racism, and hatred to hold America to its promise of equality and opportunity for all.  Through his blood, sweat, leadership, and grace he fought and won hard-earned gains that helped move our nation forward.  His example is an enduring beacon of hope and inspiration.

“As a young man, he was one of the key activists at the heart of many of the defining moments of the Civil Rights movement.  He risked his own life to ensure a better life for others and to strengthen our nation.  Guided by the principles of non-violence, John was beaten, arrested, and imprisoned but never defeated, always determined.  The club that fractured his skull could not stop his brilliant mind from organizing, orating, leading, and persevering.  

“John was inspired by a teacher to read and loved books, but was denied a library card because of the color of his skin.  He brought about change to ensure every young person in America could access books and became a best-selling author.  John Lewis’s journey took him from humble beginnings to freedom marches to local government and the halls of Congress, where he wrote and passed laws and continued to galvanize change, always advancing the Beloved Community and building toward unity and justice.  I had the opportunity to serve with Congressman Lewis and see his brilliance in action.  He was a true statesman who served with distinction.  Ever at the forefront, always willing to take risks to fight for causes he believed in, he was one of the most powerful voices for equal rights and voting rights and he used his voice to help others.

“We can still hear his rich, dynamic voice encouraging us onward with fierce hope to continue the struggle for true justice and equality.  His service to others was truly a calling and he leaves a legacy of faith, determination, bravery, activism, achievement, and optimism. 

“I join with all Americans in mourning John’s passing.  We are grateful to his family and the people of the 5thdistrict of Georgia for sharing him with us.  America has lost a great man.”