IN MEMORIAM: John Conyers Dies at 90

by October 28, 2019

Former U.S. Congressman John Conyers, whose 15-year fight to pass legislation that would make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday, has died. He was 90.

The longtime Michigan Democrat represented what is now the state’s 13th Congressional District (which includes parts of western Detroit) for more than 50 years. Conyers resigned in 2017.

Conyers was born in Detroit in 1929. He was elected to Congress in 1965 and immediately became a forceful voice in the Civil Rights Movement, co-sponsoring the Voting Rights Act of that same year.

Conyers was the first African American to chair the powerful House Judiciary Committee and helped spearhead the 1994 Violence against Women Act.

Conyers and 12 other African American members of the House of Representatives founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971.

“We always knew where he stood on issues of equality and civil rights in the fight for the people,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who now represents Conyers’ district, tweeted.

“Sad to hear of the passing of former Congressman John Conyers,” the Rev. Al Sharpton stated. “He worked with us on many civil rights cases as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and helped lead the fight for the Martin Luther King [Jr.] Holiday.”

“Most of us from Michigan loved our congressman. He was idolized and was absolutely an icon. Not only was he an icon of the civil rights movement but we looked to him for leadership. This is a massive loss. All of us in business, the clergy, the community, respected, admired and aspired to be like John Conyers,” Said Hiram Jackson, President and CEO of Real Times Media.

“Congressman John Conyers decades ago held the first U.S. Congressional Hearings on Racially-Motivated Police Brutality; led the House Judiciary Hearings on Criminal Justice and Prison Reform in America; was co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC); and was a leading congressional advocate for the freedom of Angela Davis, the Wilmington Ten, and all political prisoners in the United States,” remarked Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

“Conyers was a constitutional scholar and political visionary whose longstanding vision for freedom, justice and equality was unparalleled in the Congress of the United States,” Chavis continued. “May God bless the freedom-fighting memory and legacy of The Honorable John Conyers.” Chavis stated.


NAACP Mourns the loss of former Congressman John Conyers

The NAACP has lost a life-long friend, and the nation has lost a fervent champion for equal justice with the passing of former Congressman John Conyers.

A pioneering member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the longest-serving African American House member in congressional history, Rep. Conyers was an unmovable force when it came to advancing equality and civil rights. Rep. Conyers shepherded many seminal civil rights laws through the House of Representatives, including the Voting Rights Act and its reauthorizations, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and numerous other racial justice protections and safeguards. In 2007, he received the NAACP Spingarn Medal, the highest honor, for his tireless dedication in the fight for justice. His life-long career of pushing this nation toward justice, fairness, and liberty left an indelible impression on the world.

“From co-founding the Congressional Black Caucus, to advocating for the creation of Martin Luther King Day, some of the most important civil rights victories of the last half-century would not have been possible without the enduring leadership of Rep. Conyers in Washington,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “As a Detroit native, I can attest to what John Conyers meant to his beloved Detroit community, and we are eternally grateful that he fought for justice on behalf of the entire nation with the same commitment and perseverance he showed his beloved hometown. Today we have lost a trailblazer for justice, a titan of the movement, and a true friend and ally to the NAACP.”

“I am moved by the dedication of John Conyers’ to the fight for social good and his fearless pursuit to tear down barriers of injustice and racism,” said Leon W. Russell, Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors.   “He will forever be remembered as a giant that gave his life to advance democracy.”

The NAACP extends our sincere condolences to his family and sends prayers of comfort and strength for the days to come.


Excerpt:
Conyers, who was the first African American to chair the powerful House Judiciary Committee, also helped spearhead the 1994 Violence against Women Act. Conyers and 12 other African American members of the House of Representatives founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971.

Photo Caption:
Former U.S. Congressman John Conyers (Photo: United States Congress Official Photo / Wikimedia Commons)

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