Speaker Heastie Statement on the Passing of Congressman John Lewis

It is with great sadness that I join my colleagues – and the nation – in mourning the death of Representative John Lewis.

A champion of the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis dedicated his life to the fight for racial equality and basic human rights. He led the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, where the images of the brutal beating he endured outraged the nation and stirred support for the Voting Rights Act. Eight days later, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law.

While his contributions are immeasurable, like so many Americans, he knew that our work was not done. Representative Lewis was deeply moved by the global demonstrations following the death of George Floyd and how inclusive the fight for racial justice has become. In his absence, we must honor his legacy by continuing the momentum of the fight for equality.

His actions opened the door for so many Americans, including myself. With the passage of the Voting Rights Act, John Lewis transformed the political landscape for African Americans, allowing people of color to not only participate in elections, but to represent their communities in government as elected officials.

As a member of Congress, he maintained the highest level of integrity and never faltered in following his conscience. He was truly an American hero and a political role model. I am eternally grateful for his dedication to racial equality, and will continue to honor his legacy here in New York.