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Alexander says Lewis helped Tennesseans 'understand better the meaning of equal opportunity'

Alexander says Lewis helped Tennesseans 'understand better the meaning of equal opportunity'
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Blunt's retirement deals blow to McConnell inner circle MORE (R-Tenn.) on Saturday praised the late Rep. John LewisJohn LewisProgressives put Democrats on defense Democrats face mounting hurdles to agenda Democrats see opportunity as states push new voting rules MORE (D-Ga.), longtime member of Congress and civil rights icon who died Friday night at the age of 80.

“John Lewis’ life proves that the story of America can be, as the Rev. Ben Hooks used to say, ‘a work in progress for the better—even though we still have a long way to go,'" Alexander said in a statement.

"Sixty years ago, he was a Fisk University student in Nashville protesting laws that did not allow him to sit at lunch counters because of his race. He died a member of the United States Congress and a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Tennesseans are grateful that he helped us understand better the meaning of equal opportunity.”

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Alexander was just one of countless congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to pay tribute to Lewis, who was elected to Congress in 1986 and served 17 terms representing an Atlanta-area district.

Before his long political career, Lewis showed great courage as a young activist during the Civil Rights Movement, taking part in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington as well as enduring "Bloody Sunday" on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

At the March on Washington in 1963, Lewis was the youngest keynote speaker, and 45 years later, he was the only person who gave remarks at the historic march to see former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden's self-inflicted crisis Biden inaugural committee raised M with big sums from billionaires, corporations To confront corporate power, President Biden needs Jonathan Kanter MORE get sworn in as the country's first Black president.

“The Congressional Black Caucus is known as the Conscience of the Congress. John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus,” the CBC said in a statement, adding that “the world has lost a legend.”