Triad community reacts to death of John Lewis

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Congressman John Lewis, a lifelong powerhouse to the Civil Rights Movement, died Friday night.

He was battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Lewis was widely known for his involvement in the 1965 Voting Rights Act which banned racial discrimination from the voting polls. 

He was a champion for civil rights and a member of “the old guard” as activist Viola Fuller likes to say.

“A kind of conviction that you feel deep in your soul,” Fuller explained.

Like John Lewis, Fuller also spent her childhood in Alabama. She never crossed paths with him, but she knew of his work.

“It just sort of touches you, and you feel the loss that I do. I feel the loss,” Fuller stated.

Fuller was born into the Civil Rights Movement and remembers passing out flyers as a little girl. Today she’s a longtime member of the Greensboro NAACP.

She considered Lewis a comrade and when she heard about his passing, she felt a great sadness.

Congressman Lewis championed until the day he died.

“For him to be a youth, one of the youngest people out there and doing what he was doing to show I’m willing to put my body, I’m willing to put my life on the line for change, and we’re demanding it now…he is the embodiment for what we’re trying to do here in Greensboro and all around the world,” said Anthony Morgan, an activist for the Black Lives Matter Movement.  

He most recently spoke up on the Black Lives Matter marches against racial injustice, moved by the cause and its inclusivity.  

“It’s time for people that are my age and younger to stand ground and use our voice and make a difference,” Brittany Coleman said.

Lewis spoke at Coleman’s 2015 commencement from NC A&T State University. Parts of his speech will never leave her memory.

“I remember him saying get in the way. Be active. Never give up. Be bold. Be graceful and always stay strong,” Coleman recalled.

John Lewis was 80 years old.

John Swaine, CEO of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, told FOX8 he’s working on coordinating a virtual vigil to honor the congressman’s legacy. 

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