Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Honored on Birthday Amid Calls for Voting Rights Act Passage
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Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Honored on Birthday Amid Calls for Voting Rights Act Passage

Many took to Twitter Sunday to celebrate the late Congressman John Lewis’s birthday and urged lawmakers to pass voting rights legislation that would honor his legacy.

Lewis, who died of cancer on July 17, 2020 in Atlanta, would have turned 81 years old. He was a leader of the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s and marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He was committed to a philosophy of nonviolence and became the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1963.

Sherrilyn Ifill, attorney and the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, honored Lewis in a Sunday tweet, calling on lawmakers to support legislation that would continue his legacy.

“John Lewis we followed your call. We voted ‘like never before.’ And we’re working every day and with greater urgency to protect voting rights and to ensure the passage of legislation that will restore your legacy and empower our communities,” said Ifill.

#JohnLewis We followed your call. We voted “like never before.” And we’re working every day & with greater urgency to protect voting rights and to ensure the passage of legislation that will restore your legacy & empower our communities. https://t.co/QbgTopRusB

— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) February 21, 2021

Ifill’s tweet was in response to a tribute honoring Lewis from the Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“I don’t know of another leader in this country with the moral standing of Rep. John Lewis. His life and work helped shape the best of our national identity,” she said in the tribute.

“We revered him not only for his work and sacrifices during the Civil Rights Movement, but because of his unending, stubborn, brilliant determination to press for justice and equality in this country,” Ifill added.

Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) is photographed in
Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) is photographed in his offices in the Canon House office building on March 17, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Lewis would have turned 81 on Sunday.
Photo by Jeff Hutchens/Getty Images/Getty

Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones of New York echoed Ifill’s sentiments, while addressing a tweet from Mike Sacks, a journalist for local New York television station WNYW.

“False allegations of mass voter fraud were never meant to be proven. They were always meant to lay the foundation for another decade of voter suppression,” Jones said in a tweet on Sunday, referring to former President Donald Trump‘s unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud impacted the 2020 presidential election.

Congress can stop this by passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” Jones added.

False allegations of mass voter fraud were never meant to be proven. They were always meant to lay the foundation for another decade of voter suppression.

Congress can stop this by passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. https://t.co/aWv0BRXzse

— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) February 20, 2021

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would help safeguard voters from racial discrimination and vote suppression by strengthening the protections granted under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also called on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in a tweet Sunday.

“My friend, mentor and national treasure Rep. John Lewis would have turned 81 today. I miss him dearly,” Harrison said. “He was a happy and hopeful warrior. We all must try to live up to his legacy.”

“Our gift to him should be the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” Harrison added.

My friend, mentor & national treasure Rep. John Lewis would have turned 81 today. I miss him dearly! He was a happy & hopeful warrior. We all must try to live up to his legacy.

Our gift to him should be the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act! #HappyBirthdayMrLewis pic.twitter.com/2KXC4N2UiH

— Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair (@harrisonjaime) February 21, 2021

Democratic Representative Mike Levin of California shared Harrison’s sentiments, saying that the Voting Rights Act should be passed to honor Lewis.

“Today Rep. John Lewis would have turned 81. I’ll always cherish that my wife and I got to travel to Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham with John. It was an incredible honor to serve with him,” Levin said in a Sunday tweet.

“To honor his legacy, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act must become the law of the land,” Levin continued.

Today Rep. John Lewis would have turned 81. I’ll always cherish that my wife and I got to travel to Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham with John. It was an incredible honor to serve with him. To honor his legacy, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act must become the law of the land. pic.twitter.com/7nFOYfCKUL

— Mike Levin (@MikeLevin) February 21, 2021

As many took to Twitter to honor Lewis, volunteers in Atlanta, Georgia planted 300 trees over the weekend to celebrate Lewis’s birthday.

Newsweek reached out to the Legal Defense and Education Fund, but didn’t hear back in time for publication.

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