McConnell Speaks in Tribute to Congressman John Lewis
‘On Friday, the nation lost a monumental figure. Someone who made huge personal sacrifices to help our nation move past the sin of racism and align more with the principles of our founding... Our society has only marched toward justice because great figures like Congressman John Lewis took it upon themselves to lead the way. So the nation mourns his passing, and we celebrate the life of this American hero.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the death of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA):
“On Friday, the nation lost a monumental figure. Someone who made huge personal sacrifices to help our nation move past the sin of racism and align more with the principles of our founding.
“John Lewis had secured his place among the giants of American history before his career in Congress had even begun.
“From a sharecropper’s farm with no electricity or running water, John Lewis rose to share the stage with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a founding leader of the mid-century Civil Rights movement. His unwavering example of nonviolent resistance became a powerful rallying cry, swelling the ranks of marches and sit-ins and commanding the attention of the nation.
“As a young student, John demonstrated wisdom beyond his years and unimaginable patience and dignity in the face of harassment and brutal assaults from the champions of segregation. From boycotts and sit-ins to Bloody Sunday in Selma, he suffered, and suffered, and suffered.
“But he kept working. He was unshaken in the belief that our nation could be better. And he was willing to pay for that progress with his own blood.
“The cause of justice called John Lewis to the vanguard. From organizing the lunch counter sit-ins that made Nashville the first southern city to begin desegregating public places. To leading the first historic Freedom Riders across the South. To chairing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee that helped mobilize a generation. To addressing the March on Washington from the Lincoln Memorial.
“By the time he turned 25, John had already lent his voice and his body to a full lifetime’s work.
“But he wasn’t done yet. That same spirit of urgency followed him here to Washington.
“Whether the day’s issues found you on his side of a policy debate or on the opposite side, his warmth, friendliness, and dedication to his neighbors in Georgia’s Fifth District made an impact on everyone.
“I’m reminded particularly of joining hands with him at a ceremony here in the Capitol honoring his friend, Dr. King in 2008. As members of Congress sang “We Shall Overcome”, it was humbling to reflect on what the man standing next to me had suffered and sacrificed so that those words could be sung... at such an occasion... in that place.
“The memory of our colleague brings to mind Dr. King’s own words. He famously said, quote, “the arc of the moral universe is long, and it bends toward justice.”
“It would be a mistake to read these words and assume that he meant this bending is inevitable. Our society has only marched toward justice because great figures like Congressman John Lewis took it upon themselves to lead the way.
“So the nation mourns his passing, and we celebrate the life of this American hero.”
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