07.22.20

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Speaks on the House Floor in Tribute to John Lewis

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives on the passing of Congressman John Lewis of Georgia. Below are Congresswoman Lee’s remarks and video:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, what a void, what a void we fill tonight. I rise tonight to honor the life and legacy of a great warrior for peace and justice, a kind and gentle human being, the conscience of the Congress, Congressman John Lewis.

“As a giant of, and as our Whip indicated, a civil rights movement, John’s leadership and his courage, continued as an extraordinary congressional leader. Every year, I joined John on his annual pilgrimage to Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham, Alabama. I brought young people from the Martin Luther King Freedom Center in my district and my grandchildren each year to learn about and give thanks to the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement.

“John, always, he always took time to meet with these young people, even this year, with his failing health. He pulled them aside, he met with them, he always wanted, and he did inspire them to take that baton and to run the next lap of the race for justice and equality. And yes, like so many, he blessed my community by coming to my district to continue these efforts with my young people.

“Last year, Speaker Pelosi and Chairwoman Bass, led a delegation to Ghana, West Africa, to observe the 400th Anniversary of the First Enslaved Africans brought to America. John said that Ghana was one of the most moving trips of his life, and he said, and I quote, “to see and behold the inhumanity during another period of our history,” he said, “it tells each and every one of us to never let this evil happen again.” And now, John was welcomed in Ghana as royalty, which he was, and he was honored as a son of Africa who had come home.

“John and I would compare notes on tough votes, such as matters of war and peace and defense spending. I will miss his wise counsel and admonition – I mean really, admonition – to do the right thing, as he told all of us. To keep our eyes on the prize.

“Members know how we get agitated when our colleagues poach our staff members. Well, John poached a brilliant and wonderful young woman from my office, Jamila Thompson, and when he told me about it, believe it or not, for the first time, I was thrilled. I was thrilled that one of my staff members had been poached by John Lewis. What an honor.

“John’s presence in the people’s house will be deeply missed, but one of the greatest tributes to John Lewis would be to restore the Voting Rights Act. I would not be standing here as the 100th black member of Congress had it not been for the honorable John Robert Lewis.

“My deepest condolences and love and gratitude to John’s family, Michael Collins, Jamila Thompson, his entire phenomenal staff and his constituents, and to all those whose lives he touched. Let us continue to build the beloved community that he so eloquently spoke of.

“In closing, I’m reminded of a scripture, 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” As John Lewis’s soul returns to his creator, may he rest in peace, may he rest in power.”