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Statement on the Passing of Congressman John Lewis

Washington, D.C. (July 18, 2020) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today:


Today, with the passing of Congressman John Lewis, we have lost an icon, a legend and an American hero whose actions created an irreversible tide for justice that continues to seek higher ground to this day.

 

Congressman Lewis was the very definition of courage, tenacity, and integrity. When he stood with a new generation of fighters for civil rights and voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965, he awakened the conscience of our country and spurred the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Despite bullwhips, barbed wire, teargas, and a billy club that fractured his skull, and despite all the injustices rained down upon him and his brothers and sisters, he sought no refuge in bitterness. He was bigger than hate, and while he would forgive, he never backed up and never backed down, and he would never forget the struggle for justice and equality. Throughout his career Congressman Lewis inspired millions and became the moral authority of our Congress and of our nation.

 

During the 1963 March on Washington, long before arriving in Congress, John Lewis was the youngest of those who spoke to the massive crowd. His voice was among the most urgent and was telling of the challenge our nation faced and continues to face.  “Wake up, America, wake up,” he said. “For we cannot stop and we will not be patient.”

 

Every LIUNA member, and every American owes Congressman Lewis a debt of gratitude that we must repay by effectuating the changes he fought for his entire life. We must now all commit ourselves to the ‘good trouble’ that Congressman Lewis led with grace and tenacity. May his family be consoled, and may he rest in peace, and his eternal presence continue to be the best example of the soul of our nation.


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The half-million members of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – are on the
forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America.