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Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) with Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia).

Norcross: Remembering John Lewis

By Congressman Donald Norcross, July 31 2020 10:57 am

OPINION

This week we laid to rest Civil Rights hero Congressman John Lewis, the proud longtime representative of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District.

My heart is heavy as the world mourns an icon, who was my friend and colleague. John spoke softly but powerfully, he walked slowly but purposefully and he acted kindly but fought tirelessly for justice.

He devoted his life to making the world a better place, and he succeeded, inspiring millions to follow his lead along the way. It was my honor to serve with him in Congress and walk alongside him crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years after Bloody Sunday.

Rep. Lewis worked side-by-side with Dr. King during the civil rights movement of the 1960s and was a pivotal figure in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was originally signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting.

Sections of the legislation were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, and Lewis had been fighting since to restore the act in full, despite opposition from Republican party.

To honor Rep. Lewis and his decades of civil service, we must recommit to fighting until this bill is restored in full, which should also be renamed to honor the late Congressman.

Confederate Symbols Must Go

America is the home of Democracy and the ‘land of the free;’ there is no room for any symbols of hate, bigotry or cruelty.

Last Tuesday, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, which included an amendment requiring the renaming process of military installations and other buildings and structures named after any person who served in the political or military leadership of any armed rebellion against the United States be completed no later than one year after the NDAA enactment.

In addition, last Wednesday I voted to remove the statue of former Chief Justice Roger Taney from the Capitol grounds. In 1857, Taney delivered the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford, ruling that African-Americans could not be considered citizens and that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories of the United States.

Taney was a staunch supporter of slavery and his ruling was and will always be a stain in our nation’s history. Taney’s views do not deserve to be honored in our Capitol building, which is why I voted for his statue to be replaced with a statue of former Justice Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice.

Justice in Policing

Last month, House Democrats introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the first-ever comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement and build trust between law enforcement and our communities. We will continue to fight to pass this legislation through the Senate and protect generations of Americans from unjust policing and racial discrimination.

As we reflect on the life and legacy of John Lewis, we will never forget that he was a ferocious fighter, and we are blessed to have had him as a leader for all these years. We will miss him everyday, and until every person across the nation is truly free, may we always cause Good Trouble.

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