President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris urge Congress to protect voting rights in honor of John Lewis 1 year after death

ATLANTA – President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Representative John Lewis by urging Congress to honor the legacy of the civil rights icon by enacting legislation. protect the right to vote.

Biden said he often thinks about the last conversation he and his wife, Jill, had with Lewis, days before the Georgia congressman died.

RELATED: John Lewis, Lion of Civil Rights and Congress, Dies at 80

“Instead of responding to our concerns for him, he asked us to continue focusing on the unfinished business – the work of his life – of healing and uniting this nation.” , Biden said in a statement.

The president said the unfinished work included “building an economy that respects the dignity of workers with good work and good wages” and “ensuring equality under the law is real in reality and not just a promise carved in stone.”

“Perhaps above all, it means continuing the cause for which John was willing to give his life: defending the sacred right to vote,” Biden said. “Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s have we seen such relentless attacks on suffrage and the integrity of our elections.”

Biden said the attacks included the January 6 uprising and lies about the 2020 election.

Lewis was a prominent civil rights activist before he won a Georgia congressional seat as a Democrat in 1986. In his own statement on Saturday, Harris said he was “a big brother.” hero of America.”

“Rep. Lewis fought tirelessly for the highest ideals of our country: freedom and justice for all, and the right of every American to have their say at the ballot box. “, said Harris.

Lewis was 80 years old when he died a few months after announcing that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. He is the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by Father Martin Luther King Jr. leaders have the most influence on the movement.

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Lewis is best known for leading approximately 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Alabama State soldiers defeated Lewis and the activists Other activists were marching for the right to vote that day.

As an undergraduate student at American Baptist College and later Fisk University, Lewis helped segregate public spaces in Nashville and promote racial equity across the South.

Nashville celebrates with events on Friday and Saturday, renaming a large portion of Fifth Avenue to John Lewis Way. Among the establishments along the street is the downtown Woolworth building, where Lewis and other Black civil rights leaders defied a separate lunch counter that didn’t serve them in 1960. Lewis was punched in the ribs and saw someone light a cigarette in the back of another protester.

Hundreds of people marched through the streets before arriving at the Ryman Auditorium, for a celebration featuring Father James Lawson, author Jon Meacham and musicians Rodney Crowell and Darius Rucker.

In San Diego, senior US lawmakers and members of the Lewis family gathered on Saturday to christen a Navy ship named after the Lewis.

“This ship will be a beacon to the world reminding all who see it of the tenacity and courage of John Lewis,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., said at the christening. by USNS John Lewis.

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Lewis’ grandson, Marcus Tyner, said the family was grateful for the honor, but said “what would please my uncle most” would be if Congress passed a voting rights bill that bears his name.

The ship will be the first in the Navy’s fleet of trains designed to deliver fuel and water to ships on missions in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and beyond.

In his statement Saturday, Harris recalled crossing Alabama’s Edmund Pettus Bridge with Lewis during a celebration in 2020.

“The right to vote is still under attack in states across the country,” Harris said. “And the best way to honor Congressman Lewis’ legacy is to continue the fight – by passing the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act as well as the For the People Act, and by helping voters suffice. conditions no matter where they live to register and vote and count their votes.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for a sweeping federal ballot and election bill that Senate Republicans have agreed to block, saying they think it infrings on their ability to vote. conduct state elections. Most Republicans have also rejected a separate bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Progressive Act, that would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act that had been weakened by the Supreme Court.

Featured video is from an earlier report.

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