Today, America lost one of its true political heroes with the passing of John Lewis. For more than 30 years, Lewis served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the state of Georgia. He took part in many key historic votes and fights over legislation that have shaped our country and world over the past two generations. But for most Americans, his legacy stretches back to the fight for civil rights, where Lewis marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders.
His personal bravery was truly exceptional. In 1963, Lewis was one of the key organizers of the landmark March on Washington where King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. Lewis has rightfully been heralded by Democrats and Republicans alike for honoring the legacy of non-violent protests. At just 21-years-old, he was brutally assaulted by two white men in South Carolina while peacefully attempting to enter a whites only waiting room. In recent years, Lewis described how he stayed true to his principles of non-violence in the face of hatred and real violence: "We were determined not to let any act of violence keep us from our goal. We knew our lives could be threatened, but we had made up our minds not to turn back."
One of the many Americans inspired by Lewis is former President Barack Obama. The direct line between the leadership Lewis demonstrated and the historic presidency of Obama is clear to anyone. So, it's not surprising that Obama has written an incredibly powerful essay in honor of Lewis and his life.
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