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Pressley: 'Especially painful' to lose Lewis 'at a new moment of racial reckoning'

Pressley: 'Especially painful' to lose Lewis 'at a new moment of racial reckoning'
© Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyGOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' Pelosi faces caucus divisions in Biden era Record number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) said Sunday that it is “especially painful” to lose Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains Biden must look to executive action to fulfill vow to Black Americans The purposeful is political: Gen Z bowls over their doubters MORE (D-Ga.) during a new moment of racial reckoning in the U.S. 

Pressley, who became the first Black congresswoman elected to serve Massachusetts in 2018, credited Lewis’s activism for her ability to win her Congressional seat. 

“I consider myself inordinately blessed, while feeling simultaneously robbed. I know we had him for 80 years, but you just can't have enough of that goodness. And, certainly, I consider myself to be a beneficiary of his activism. There would be no Ayanna Pressley and countless others were it not for John Lewis, the conscience and the compass of our Congress, but, I could argue, for our nation,” Pressley said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

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“And it is especially painful to lose a justice seeker and a man with the moral clarity of John Lewis, against the backdrop at a new moment of racial reckoning in this country, when you see police states like what's happening in Portland, unrest all around us, voter intimidation and suppression tactics. It is especially acute and painful to be losing him,” she added. 

Lewis died Friday at the age of 80. He had revealed in late December 2019 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. 

Lewis was a civil rights era legend who spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He was also badly beaten during a civil rights march two years later in Selma, Ala. 

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Nationwide protests over police brutality and racial inequality have broken out in recent months, sparked by the late- May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Custody. 

Pressley added that she had hoped President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE would not even tweet about Lewis’s death, urging him instead to take meaningful action for reforms Lewis pushed for during his life. 

“At this point, we don't need anybody's sympathies or tweets. What we need is action,” Pressley said. 

“If you really want to honor the life of John Lewis, you don't do things like gut the fair housing laws. You don't sow the seeds of division. And you don't delay bringing the Voting Rights Advancement Act, named after John Lewis, to the floor. And that should be brought to the floor immediately,” she added. “So, they're in complete contradiction of everything that John Lewis fought for, and they dishonor the blood that he shed on that bridge.”