Congress should honor the memory of the late civil rights activist and U.S. by enacting laws to protect voting rights, Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement Saturday on the one-year anniversary of his death.
“As we mourn his loss, we reflect on the legacy of an American hero,“ Harris said. “Congressman Lewis fought tirelessly for our country’s highest ideals: freedom and justice for all, and for the right of every American to make their voice heard at the ballot box.”
Lewis was a high-profile civil rights activist before he won a Georgia congressional seat as a Democrat in 1986.
He was 80 when he died months after announcing he had advanced pancreatic cancer. Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement.
Lewis was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Alabama state troopers beat Lewis and other activists who were marching for voting rights that day.
In her statement Saturday, Harris recalled crossing the bridge with Lewis during a commemoration in 2020.
“The right to vote remains under attack in states across our nation,” Harris said. “And the best way to honor Congressman Lewis’s legacy is to carry on the fight _ by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act as well as the For the People Act, and by helping eligible voters no matter where they live get registered and vote, and have their vote counted.”
Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for a sweeping federal voting and elections bill that Senate Republicans have united to block, saying they think it intrudes on states’ ability to conduct elections. Most Republicans have also dismissed a separate bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore sections of the Voting Rights Act that were weakened by the Supreme Court.