SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – He was a civil rights icon and served 17 terms in Congress representing his district near Atlanta. Congressman John Lewis died Friday at the age of 80.
News 3 spoke with former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson on Monday who remembered Lewis as an example to all of those of her generation who became involved in the civil rights movement as young adults.
In Jackson’s case, she was a teenager who joined the NAACP. She said word of Lewis’ involvement and leadership in the movement was something that became well known during that period.
“He really was one of the youth leaders that became a major leader,” said Jackson.
She recalled that when she was running to be Savannah’s first female African American mayor that she received a call of support from Lewis.
He served in Congress for 17 terms but Jackson says for Lewis, it was never about recognition or glory. “He never changed,” she said. “Whatever John Lewis did, he did it for the people, it was never for himself.”
In 1965, Lewis was severely beaten as he helped organize a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Years later in one of his many fiery speeches in the halls of Congress, Lewis would say: “When you see something that’s not right, not just, not fair — you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something.”
Lewis was arrested dozens of times during the civil rights movement, but many like Jackson who admired him say he never stopped pushing for change and never stopped advocating for what was right.
“He fought until the end and that’s the most important thing that I will remember about him,” said Jackson.
“He never gave up, even at the end. He always encouraged other people never to give up,” she told us.