Former Rep. John Conyers dies at 90

Former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersThe faith community can help pass a reparations bill California comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote MORE (D-Mich.), the longest-serving African American House member in congressional history, died Sunday at age 90. 

"Today, the city of Detroit, The United States and the world lost a fearless civil rights leader and hero, Congressman, John James Conyers, Jr.," a spokesperson for the Conyers family said in a statement.


"Congressman Conyers was a devoted father and husband and his world revolved around securing justice against racial and economic discrimination. A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and throughout his 53 years in U.S. Congress, Conyers authored or sponsored legislation that impacted the lives of millions; including the Martin Luther King Holiday Act. His legacy and advocacy for human rights will live on forever," the spokesperson added in the statement.

Conyers, a veteran of the Korean War and a participant in the Civil Rights movement, was a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and chaired the House Oversight and Reform Committee from 1989 to 1995. He also introduced the bill establishing a national holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

He was also the first African American to serve as the dean of the House, or the longest continually serving current member. Conyers was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation into former President Nixon and was on Nixon’s “enemies list.”

During his tenure, he also regularly introduced bills to establish a single-payer health care system and to conduct a study on reparations for the descendants of slaves.

Conyers resigned from his Detroit-area seat in 2017 after serving for more than 50 years amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment from young female staffers, which he denied.

"For Detroiters, I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish by bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in critical grants and federal funding to Southeast Michigan to revitalize our great city, attract rich talent, and return us to prosperity," Conyers said in a statement read by a colleague on the House floor in December 2017.

The allegations began with the revelation in November 2017 that he had settled a complaint with a former aide, Marion Brown, in 2015 over claims that she was fired for turning him down after he sexually propositioned her. Conyers paid her about $27,000 through his congressional office budget, sparking a furor about the use of taxpayer money for harassment settlements.

Conyers’s grandnephew Ian lost the 2018 Democratic primary to now-Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water Ohio becomes battleground for rival Democratic factions MORE (D-Mich.).

“Our Congressman forever, John Conyers, Jr.,” Tlaib said in a tweet Sunday. “He never once wavered in fighting for jobs, justice and peace. We always knew where he stood on issues of equality and civil rights in the fight for the people. Thank you Congressman Conyers for fighting for us for over 50 years.”