Uhuru mourns American civil rights crusader John Lewis - Beaking Kenya News

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Sunday, 19 July 2020

Uhuru mourns American civil rights crusader John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis when he addressed supporters of Democrat Jon Ossoff as they wait for the poll numbers to come in for Georgia's 6th Congressional District special election in Atlanta, Georgia, US on June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

President Uhuru Kenyatta has joined world leaders in mourning American civil rights crusader and long-serving Congressman John Lewis.

Lewis succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 80 years on Saturday.

The President said the death of the Congressman had robbed the world of an inspirational politician whose achievements helped shape the careers of many renowned global leaders.

"I wish God's comfort to the family of the Congressman, members of his Democratic Party and his supporters during this difficult period of grief," Uhuru said on Sunday through a statement from State House.

Lewis was one of the "Big Six" civil rights leaders, which included Martin Luther King Jr, and helped organise the historic 1963 March on Washington.

Barack Obama is among those who have praised Lewis's legacy.

Barack Obama and John Lewis walked across the bridge 50 years after the landmark march
Barack Obama and John Lewis walked across the bridge 50 years after the landmark march
Image: REUTERS

President Donald Trump later said in a tweet that he was "saddened" to hear of the former congressman's death.

A petition to rename a bridge in Alabama that played a pivotal role in Lewis's life has drawn more than 400,000 signatures.

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, described Lewis as "truly one-of-a-kind, a moral compass".

Mr Biden said he had spoken to Lewis in the days before his death.

"His voice still commanded respect and his laugh was still full of joy. Instead of answering our concerns for him, he asked about us. He asked us to stay focused on the work left undone to heal this nation."

Each of the four living former US presidents paid tribute to Lewis.

"Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way. John Lewis did," Barack Obama said. "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."

His predecessor George W Bush said Lewis had "worked to make our country a more perfect union", while Bill Clinton described him as "the conscience of the nation".

Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, noted that the former congressman had "made an indelible mark on history through his quest to make our nation more just".

The response from current President Donald Trump, however, was far more muted and came hours after messages were issued by other US politicians.

"Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family," said Trump, whom Lewis had publicly criticised.

Flags were flown at half-mast on Saturday morning and Vice-President Mike Pence called Lewis "a great man whose courage and decades of public service changed America forever".

Civil rights activists spoke of their sorrow at Lewis's death.

"John Lewis is what patriotism and courage look like," civil rights activist Rev Jesse Jackson, who first met Lewis during protests in 1960, said.

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