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The sports world honored Georgia Rep. John Lewis overnight Friday after the civil rights icon died at the age of 80. Lewis announced in late December he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
His death comes during a national reckoning with racial inequality that has seen athletes, such as Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, at its forefront. They paid tribute to the leader on Twitter.
Rep. Lewis fought for voting rights, equality
Lewis, who became a stanchion of moral authority in Congress, was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized the 1963 March on Washington. He was a protege of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and images of him being physically beaten in Selma, Alabama, helped push the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through Congress.
The Democrat was elected to represent Atlanta in Congress in 1986, becoming the second Black representative from Georgia since Reconstruction. He became the “conscience of Congress” and was both revered and beloved on both sides of the aisle as he fought to “bringing freedom and justice to all,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote in a statement.
Lewis viewed the protests after George Floyd’s death as a continuation of his work against systemic racism. Athletes are bringing the racial justice causes to their respective leagues as games begin again next week during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was very moving, very moving to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over America and around the world take to the streets — to speak up, to speak out, to get into what I call ‘good trouble,’” Mr. Lewis told “CBS This Morning” in June.
Athletes react to Lewis’ death
Many athletes used the hashtag #goodtrouble in honoring Lewis.
Teams in Atlanta also paid tribute to both Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a civil rights icon and Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee who marched on the front lines of the 1960s movement. The field general for Rev. Dr. Marin Luther King, Vivian died Friday at the age of 95 in his home in Atlanta.
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