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Pelosi, Democrats celebrate legacy of John Lewis

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and other Democratic lawmakers celebrated the legacy of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Tuesday night, reflecting on his lifelong message of nonviolence and equity on the heels of a racially motivated shooting that left 10 dead in Buffalo, N.Y., last week.

Lawmakers and celebrities, including the actress Alfre Woodard and the rapper Common, crowded the Hamilton Hotel in D.C. for the inaugural gala of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation.

“John transformed our nation with his vision, his courage and his persistence,” Pelosi said in remarks at the event. “From lunch counters, to Nashville, to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, to the floor of the House of Representatives, his extraordinary sacrifice and indomitable spirit made him revered on both sides of the Congress and both sides of the aisle.”

Lewis served nearly a quarter century in Congress after his first election in 1986 to his death in office in 2020. Before his legislative career, he was a civil rights legend and was badly injured by Alabama State Police on March 7, 1965, a day known as “Bloody Sunday.” The events on the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery were depicted in the movie Selma

Other speakers included Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Woodard, who hosted the event. 

The gala served as a launch pad for the foundation, which seeks to build on the legacy set by Lewis and his wife through civic engagement and partnerships with organizations.

“When we were thinking about the theme for this event, the thing that came up all the time was love and peace,” said foundation interim President and CEO Linda Earley Chastang in an interview with The Hill at the event. “That’s all [Lewis] talked about. That is the key to success in anything.”

Woodard spoke of the personal relationship she had with Lewis, including being asked to join him at the christening of a U.S. Navy ship named after the civil rights giant.

“[Lewis] used his entire being to affect the positive change he knew the world needed,” Woodard said at the gala. “Our good brother demonstrated every day of his life his core belief that everybody, regardless of circumstance, is entitled to live in dignity.”

Tags Alfre Woodard Buffalo shootings Common John Lewis John Lewis Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi Raphael Warnock

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