On the one-year anniversary of John Lewis' death, the country is reflecting on the legacy of the civil rights hero who played a large role in Black American's fight for the right to vote. Lewis' supporters, who now find themselves in an era where the topic of voting rights has once again become a critical issue, are vowing to uphold the efforts of the American hero.
Texas representative Beto O'Rourke is among those who has promised to keep up the fight.
"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," O'Rourke tweeted on the one-year anniversary of Lewis' death.
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.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 17, 2021
As Blavity previously reported, the recent fight against voter suppression continued this week when Democratic state legislators in Texas fled the state and flew to Washington, D.C., hoping to block Republicans from passing controversial election laws.
The Democrats said Texas is aiming to impose stricter policies for absentee ballots and striving to enforce new limits on election officials. The Republicans' plan is similar to the efforts of lawmakers in Georgia, who aimed to pass new legislation after former president Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection last year.
While the fight to preserve voting rights continues, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, was among those who paid homage to Lewis on Saturday.
The tributes continued on social media as public figures, and many others showed appreciation for the late congressman.
"A year ago we lost a national hero, and I lost a friend and parishioner. John Lewis spent his life fighting to ensure our country lived up to its founding creed, and I’m so honored for the opportunity to carry on his legacy," Reverend Raphael Warnock wrote.
Former first lady Michelle Obama recognized Lewis for his ability to persevere despite the challenges he faced throughout his life.
"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," Obama wrote.
Senator Cory Booker said he is missing the presence of his mentor and friend.
As Blavity previously reported, Lewis died last year at age 80. Earlier this year, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners in Georgia approved a resolution to erect a statue for the civil rights champion, deciding to place the monument on the same ground where a Confederate statue previously stood.
“John was a giant of a man, with a humble heart,” DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year. “He met no strangers and he truly was a man who loved the people and who loved his country, which he represented very well. He deserves this honor.”
The man who coined the term "good trouble" was arrested at least 45 times throughout his life while fighting for justice. He died nearly 50 years after he was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Bernice A. King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., talked about Lewis' sacrifice when she wrote for NBC News to pay tribute to the Georgia native.
King said the man they called "Uncle John" in their family demonstrated the courage to live a life of sacrifice. She particularly pointed to the sacrifice Lewis made on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he was brutally beaten by police and nearly killed while marching for the right to vote.
"Who knew that a vicious encounter on the Edmund Pettus Bridge would jump-start such an incredible legacy of leadership, from protest lines to legislative halls?" King wrote. "Uncle John marched toward a cruel beating, not knowing that he would one day not only serve in Congress, but also serve under the first Black president of the United States. Uncle John epitomized the fourth principle of nonviolence and should serve as a constant reminder to humanity of its truth."
After her father's assassination, King said Lewis "was one of a few who continued to remain committed to nonviolence as a philosophy."
"He certainly understood my father’s wise words, 'Hate is too great a burden to bear,'” she wrote. "He persisted in allowing truth, love and justice to be his guides and injected nonviolence into the halls of Congress, where it is so desperately needed."