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20 July 2020
Mourning the Loss of a True Champion for Human Rights

As we commemorated Nelson Mandela International Day on July 18th, another champion and advocate for human rights left this nation and earth. Throughout his life, Congressman John Lewis was an example of someone who truly walked the talk and was deeply committed to social justice and equity, helping shape the civil rights movement and keeping it alive until today.     

Congressman Lewis was a follower and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., participated in lunch counter sit-ins, joined the Freedom Riders in challenging segregated buses and --at the age of 23 -- was a keynote speaker at the historic 1963 March on Washington.

“If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington… We must say, ‘Wake up, America, wake up!’ For we cannot stop, and we will not be patient.”

Despite many attacks and beatings, Congressman Lewis never lost his activist spirit, taking it from protests to politics. He was elected to the Atlanta city council in 1981, then to Congress six years later. Once in Washington, he focused on fighting against poverty and helping younger generations by improving education and health care. Known as ‘the conscience of Congress’ he brought in a new era in the struggle for equality in America, and in recent years became a moral compass during political turmoil.

The UN Association is committed to keeping Congressman Lewis’ legacy alive, standing up and advancing human rights at home and around the world. Our mission of educating and advocating for a strong US-UN partnership has never been more critical and needed to achieve racial justice.

The UN Association of the USA and its chapters around the country extends its heartfelt condolences to Congressman Lewis’s family, his colleagues in Congress and friends.

Let’s honor Congressman Lewis and the many lives and sacrifices made through decades and take the movement to the next level. Now is the time to bring lasting peace and human rights to all!

Paula Boland

President, UN Association of the National Capital Area
National Council Chair, UN Association of the USA