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Reports that circulated for a time on Saturday claiming that Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) had died are untrue, according to his staff, who confirmed that he’s alive and “resting” at his home.
“Rumors are not true,” said Lewis’ chief of staff, Michael Collins, in a statement to Fox News. “He is resting comfortably at home.”
The initial reports that Lewis had died may have stemmed from a tweet by Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.), which has since been deleted. And Adams has apologized online for the error.
“We deeply regret a previous tweet based on a false news report,” she posted on Twitter.
We deeply regret a previous tweet based on a false news report. https://t.co/na2nYmPScf
— Rep. Alma Adams (@RepAdams) July 11, 2020
Lewis, 80, has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and has been undergoing treatment. As such, he’s been using a proxy to cast his votes in Congress.
In recent weeks, Lewis, considered a civil rights icon in his own right, has been outspoken following the May death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
But unlike many others angered over Floyd’s death, Lewis has never called for riots and violence.
“My fellow Americans, this is a special moment in our history. Just as people of all faiths and no faiths, and all backgrounds, creeds and colors banded together decades ago to fight for equality and justice in a peaceful, orderly, non-violent fashion, we must do so again,” he said at the time.
“Sixty-five years have passed, and I still remember the face of young Emmett Till. It was 1955. I was 15 years old — just a year older than him,” Lewis wrote.
Till, 14, was lynched after being accused of insulting a white woman. His killers were acquitted, which sparked national outrage at the time and is seen by many as the catalyst for the civil rights movement that followed throughout the 1960s.
“What happened that summer in Money, Mississippi, and the months that followed — the recanted accusation, the sham trial, the dreaded verdict — shocked the country to its core. And it helped spur a series of non-violent events by everyday people who demanded better from our country,” Lewis continued. “Despite real progress, I can’t help but think of young Emmett today as I watch video after video after video of unarmed Black Americans being killed, and falsely accused. My heart breaks for these men and women, their families, and the country that let them down — again.”
That said, Lewis adamantly voiced opposition to rioters and looters.
“To the rioters here in Atlanta and across the country: I see you, and I hear you. I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way. Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive. History has proven time and again that non-violent, peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve,” he added.
Last week, Lewis posted a booking photo of himself taken by Jackson, Miss., police in 1961 after being arrested for “using a so-called ‘white’ restroom during the Freedom Rides” of that year.
59 years ago today I was released from Parchman Farm Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson, MS for using a so-called "white" restroom during the Freedom Rides of 1961. pic.twitter.com/OUfgeaNDOm
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) July 7, 2020
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