President Biden, Barack Obama Honor Civil Rights Icon John Lewis: ‘It’s Up to Us to Continue the Work’
Colleagues and admirers alike are remembering Rep. John Lewis’ legacy of “good trouble” one year after the civil rights pioneer’s death, with many tributes spurring action on his “final marching order”: the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Lewis’ death at age 80. At the time of his passing, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, aimed at strengthening the government’s response to voter discrimination, had passed but Republicans are currently blocking the proposal through a filibuster. The act harkens back to Lewis’ roots as a key figure of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Check out some notable tributes to the “King of Good Trouble” here.
“Days before he died one year ago today, Jill and I spoke with John Lewis for the last time,” President Biden tweeted. “He asked us to remain focused on the unfinished work – his life’s work – of healing and uniting this nation. With John’s spirit guiding us, we must be unafraid and never give up.”
Days before he died one year ago today, Jill and I spoke with John Lewis for the last time. He asked us to remain focused on the unfinished work – his life’s work – of healing and uniting this nation. With John’s spirit guiding us, we must be unafraid and never give up.
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 17, 2021
Former president Barack Obama, who awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, tweeted, “John Lewis and C.T. Vivian loved this country so much that they risked their lives so that it might live up to its promise. They gave all of themselves to the cause of freedom and justice, and inspired generations to follow their example. Now it’s up to us to continue the work.”
John Lewis and C.T. Vivian loved this country so much that they risked their lives so that it might live up to its promise. They gave all of themselves to the cause of freedom and justice, and inspired generations to follow their example. Now it’s up to us to continue the work. pic.twitter.com/LZNQHqIUAo
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 17, 2021
Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama directly referenced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in her post, reflecting on Lewis’ “legacy of perseverance; his ability to find moments of joy and lightness in the midst of real struggle” as the country recommits to “building the future he envisioned.”
A year ago today, we lost Congressman John Lewis. As we celebrate the king of good trouble—his legacy of perseverance; his ability to find moments of joy and lightness in the midst of real struggle—we should also recommit ourselves to building the future he envisioned. pic.twitter.com/07nbvnBh9i
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) July 17, 2021
Former president Bill Clinton also paid his respects on Twitter, writing that the best way we can honor Lewis’ life is by “following his final marching order” and “fighting voter suppression and passing strong laws that ensure every citizen can vote and have their vote counted.”
On the anniversary of his death, the best way we can honor John Lewis’ life is by following his final marching order to keep moving—by fighting voter suppression and passing strong laws that ensure every citizen can vote and have their vote counted.
— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) July 17, 2021
Read more heartfelt tributes from Lewis’ peers and admirers here.
Last year a nation lost a leader, hero, and activist in John Lewis. Every single day I find myself missing my mentor and friend, and will forever pull inspiration from his towering legacy. pic.twitter.com/zv4avp31Pk
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 17, 2021
Remembering and celebrating John Lewis today is important.
Abolishing the filibuster to secure the right to vote for everyone is how we must protect his legacy.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) July 17, 2021
One year ago, our nation lost a towering figure in American history. John Lewis was a fearless truth-teller with unshakable courage and conviction. Today and every day, we must recommit ourselves to getting into #GoodTrouble in the fight against discrimination and inequality.
— Al Gore (@algore) July 17, 2021
We lost John Lewis a year ago, but his life’s work is very much alive in the fight for voting rights and the struggle to save our democracy.
Join a vigil tonight to remember one of America’s greatest heroes and to commit yourself to the work before us: https://t.co/ewwXwIoEWX pic.twitter.com/AFTyaixCTG
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 17, 2021
“Figure out a way to get IN the way.”
~Congressman John Lewis pic.twitter.com/Ya2rh1KA4t
— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) July 17, 2021
John Lewis’ head was cracked open on the Edmund Pettus bridge fighting to give US the right to vote. To honor his passing, the least we can do is protect it. Kill the filibuster for Voting Rights!
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) July 17, 2021
In honor of Rep. John Lewis I will try every chance I get to get in “good” trouble. I will continue to speak up when I see injustice in our society. Happy Saturday!
— Stella Parton (@StellaParton) July 17, 2021
Remember John Lewis by causing good trouble to protect our sacred vote.
— Grant Stern is fully vaccinated (@grantstern) July 17, 2021
A number of candlelight vigils will be held nationwide Saturday night to commemorate Lewis’ passing and to encourage Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and actress Alfre Woodard christened the Navy ship USNS John Lewis in his honor.