ATLANTA (AP) – Civil rights leader Xernona Clayton and close friends met at her office in Atlanta to plan a Birthday celebration for congressman John Lewis 80th birthday in February.
The Georgia congressman recently announced that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer, vowing he will stay in office and fight the disease with the tenacity with which he fought racial discrimination and other inequalities dating to the civil rights era.
Clayton went to visit Lewis soon as she heard the news.
During the visit Lewis told her that he’s been in fights before and will fight again.
She said that she could feel the tension that he’s really got something before him now that’s very serious.
The American Cancer Society estimates 3% of patients with stage 4 pancreatic cancer are alive five years after being diagnosed.
Sometimes called the “conscience of the Congress,” Lewis led hundreds of protesters in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
He was at the head of the march when he was knocked to the ground and beaten by police.
The nationally televised images forced the country’s attention on the racial inequalities being fought by King and so many others.