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Obama remembers John Lewis: 'I stood on his shoulders'

Former President Obama on Saturday morning mourned the death of Rep. John LewisJohn LewisBrown says Biden's first moves as president should be COVID relief, voting rights Harry Reid: Biden should give GOP three weeks to see if they will work with him NY Times slammed for glowing Farrakhan op-ed: 'You would think he was a gentleman' MORE (D-Ga.), saying he “stood on his shoulders” about the civil rights icon and longstanding member of Congress.

“I first met John when I was in law school, and I told him then that he was one of my heroes. Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders," Obama wrote on Medium. "When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made.

"And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly.”

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Lewis died on Friday at the age of 80. The renowned civil rights leader was one of the original Freedom Riders and the leader of the “Bloody Sunday” march in Selma in 1965, where he suffered a skull fracture after being beaten with a nightstick by a white police officer while marching for Black voting rights.

He acted as a symbol of the movement and advocated for what he liked to call “good trouble” for more than 30 years while serving in the House of Representatives for his Atlanta-area district.

Lewis, the youngest keynote speaker at the March on Washington in 1963, was the only person who delivered remarks at the event to witness Obama becoming the nation’s first African American president.

When Lewis asked Obama to sign a commemorative photograph at his 2009 inauguration, the newly sworn-in president wrote: “Because of you, John.”

In 2011, Obama awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

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“He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise,” Obama wrote. “And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example."

Obama reminisced that the last time he shared a public forum with Lewis was during a virtual town hall regarding the Black Lives Matter demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died while in Minneapolis police custody.

“Afterwards, I spoke to him privately, and he could not have been prouder of their efforts — of a new generation standing up for freedom and equality, a new generation intent on voting and protecting the right to vote, a new generation running for political office,” Obama wrote. “I told him that all those young people — of every race, from every background and gender and sexual orientation — they were his children. They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it.”

Obama concluded by saying Lewis has provided Americans with “our marching orders — to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise.”