McConnell Delivers Rotunda Tribute to Congressman John Lewis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today paying tribute to Congressman John Lewis (D-GA):

“In his memoirs, John Lewis described a childhood home that was quite different from the place he lies today. 

“That farmhouse in Pike County, Alabama, had no running water or electricity. It stood on the first land his father’s family had ever owned, in a part of the country where segregation had led to almost-total isolation along racial lines.

“It would have been hard to conceive back then that the young child tending his family’s chickens would, by age 23, be leading the movement to redeem American society. That he’d be addressing hundreds of thousands of civil rights marchers from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“I was lucky enough to be there that day. I marveled at the massive crowds. The sight gave me hope for our country. That was John’s doing.

“Even on that day, as his voice echoed across the Mall, I wonder how many dared imagine that young man would come to walk the halls of the Congress.

“America’s original sin of slavery was allowed to fester for far too long. It left a long wake of pain, violence, and brokenness that has taken great efforts from great heroes to address.

“John’s friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But that is never automatic. History only bent toward what’s right because people like John paid the price to help bend it. 

“He paid that price at every Nashville lunch counter where his leadership made segregation impossible to ignore.

“He paid it in every jail cell where he waited out hatred and oppression.

“He paid that price in harassment and beatings, from a bus station in South Carolina to the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“John Lewis lived and worked with urgency, because the task was urgent.

“But even though the world around him gave him every cause for bitterness, he stubbornly treated everyone with respect and love.

“All so that, as his friend Dr. King once put it, we could build “a community at peace with itself.”

“Today, we pray and trust that this peacemaker himself now rests in peace.

“All of John’s colleagues stand with his son, John Miles, their family, and the entire country... in thanking God that He gave our nation this hero it needed so badly.

“May all of us that he will leave behind under this dome pray for a fraction of John’s strength to keep bending that arc on toward justice.”


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