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Wilson Center Mourns Passing of Congressman John Lewis

WASHINGTON – The Wilson Center community mourns the loss of civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis. Congressman Lewis served the people of his District in Georgia for over 33 years and lived a life on the front lines of the civil rights movement, including enduring a brutal beating by police during the landmark 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. He was a fearless advocate with an unwavering commitment to human rights and equality and throughout his life preached and practiced nonviolence.

His long service in Congress (1987-2020) overlapped the congressional term of Wilson Center President and CEO Jane Harman. Harman recalled Lewis’ comments at a gathering around the 2008 Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama.

“It was extraordinary to hear the sharecropper’s son talk of his excitement about the election of America’s first Black President,” said Harman.  “It was a moment full of hope and I was thrilled to be returning to Congress to work with both of them. John remained the soul of Congress when very few have any moral authority. His passing is a huge loss to Congress, the country, and the world.”

“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”


— Remarks atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 1, 2020.

We at the Wilson Center are grateful for his long life of devoted service to our nation and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.