John Lewis faced dozens of beatings, taunts and arrests throughout his life. But he overcame every challenge that came his way and continued to fight for Black lives, creating new possibilities for generations that came after him.

On Friday, the civil rights icon died at the age of 80, according to Politico. His death came eight months after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, as Blavity previously reported.

It was the kind of loss that was immediately felt by the generations of people who have been impacted by the sacrifices Lewis has made throughout his life. Americans everywhere quickly flooded social media on Friday night, paying tribute to the social justice champion and longtime congressman from Georgia.

Former President Barack Obama led the way as usual in helping the country grieve during tough times. Using his eloquent words, Obama wrote an essay on Medium.

"John Lewis — one of the original Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, leader of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia for 33 years — not only assumed that responsibility, he made it his life’s work," the former president wrote.

Lewis risked his life countless times in his lifelong fight against racism. That was especially evident during the 1965 march in Selma, Alabama when the civil rights leader was almost beaten to death by Alabama state troopers while demonstrating with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and hundreds of other Black citizens demanding the right to vote.

"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," Obama wrote.

Obama has expressed his gratitude for Lewis on a number of occasions, including the time the two icons came together during his historic presidential inauguration in 2009. 

"I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made," Obama said. "And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly."