John Lewis, a civil rights leader and US congressman who helped organise the 1963 March on Washington along with Martin Luther King Jr, has died aged 80.
John Lewis was born in Alabama to sharecroppers, and rose to prominence as a civil rights leader in the 1960s, as one of the “Big Six”, which included Martin Luther King Jr. Both helped to organise the march on Washington in 1963, where King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. Lewis was the youngest of the Big Six and until his death, was the last surviving speaker from the Washington March.
In 1987, Democrat Lewis was elected as congressman for Georgia, representing the state’s fifth district, which included most of the capital, Atlanta. He held this post until he died.
Last December, Lewis made the announcement he was battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, stating at the time: “I have been in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life, I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.”
Former US president Barack Obama said in a statement that he had spoken with Lewis after a virtual meeting with activists after the death of George Floyd, and claimed the congressman had expressed how “proud” he was of their efforts.