The Former American President, Barrack Obama has reacted to the death of Freedom Riders, Member of Congress representing the people of Georgia, John Lewis, saying John’s life was exceptional who gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.
The Former American President took to his official social platform on Friday, to pay tributes to a fallen hero, he said considering John’s enormous impact on the history of America, what always struck those who met him was his gentleness and humility as his life was exceptional.
According to Obama, “John’s life was exceptional. But he never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country might do. He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect. And it’s because he saw the best in all of us that he will continue, even in his passing, to serve as a beacon in that long journey towards a more perfect union.
He added that he first met John when he was in law school. “I told him then that he was one of my heroes. Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders. When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly”.
He recalled the last time he and John shared a public forum at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who helped to lead summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts, of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office.
“I told him that all those young people, of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation, they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it. They had understood through him what American citizenship requires, even if they had heard of his courage only through history books.
“Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders – to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise”, he said.
John Lewis was one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders, which included Martin Luther King Jnr and helped organise the historic 1963 March on Washington. He was 84 years of age. In December 2019, Lewis announced that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.