UNAC/UHCP President Denise Duncan, RN, released the following statement on the death of Congressman John Lewis:
“Like many Americans, I am saddened by the loss of Rep. John Lewis.
“While many know Rep. Lewis was a civil rights icon, his life deserves the highest praise.
“Born in Alabama, Rep. Lewis grew up in a world that was divided between white spheres and black. As a young man, he organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in Nashville. Later, Rep. Lewis took part in Freedom Rides, on segregated buses. He was a non-violent protester who often was violently beaten by those who opposed integration. Rep. Lewis was one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders who planned the March on Washington. He spoke that day before the Rev. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.
“Rep. Lewis’s most well-known non-violent action occurred during the Mississippi Freedom Summer campaign, when a voting rights march between Selma and Montgomery ended on Edmund Pettus Bridge. Alabama State Troopers tear gassed and beat peaceful protesters praying. Hitting him repeatedly with a night stick, the troopers fractured Rep. Lewis’s skull, giving him lifelong scars. On the fiftieth anniversary of the march, he marched with President Barack Obama to mark the date.
“Rep. Lewis was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he was a 17-term Congressman at the time of his death. A non-violent and deeply religious man, Rep. Lewis urged Americans to seek out good trouble and fight for the civil rights of all.
“Rep. Lewis was a giant among men. Our world is better for him having lived and his loss is indescribable. May he rest in power.”