John Lewis speaks during a press conference in Washington, DC.File/AFP
John Lewis, a pioneer of the civil rights movement and long-time member of the US House of Representatives, died on Friday.
Lewis, a member of Congress from Atlanta who had announced in 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 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 Lewis "a titan of the civil rights movement whose goodness, faith and bravery transformed our nation."
Lewis was a protege of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom he met after writing to him when Louis was just 18. He was the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, having stood beside King when he made his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Lewis kept up the fight for civil rights and human rights until the end of his life, inspiring others with calls to make "Good Trouble."Reuters
Born in 1921, Lowery worked closely alongside leading figures in the civil rights movement such as King and Jesse Jackson and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights group started by King.
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