The death of civil rights icon and longtime Georgia Congressman John Lewis has prompted many in the sports world to pay their respects to the legendary figure.
Lewis was one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s that included Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lewis is also one of the original Freedom Riders, Riders, civil rights workers who traveled throughout the South on buses to test the Supreme Court decision of Boynton v. Virginia which made segregation in interstate bus travel unconstitutional.
Lewis established himself as one of the most prominent young leaders in the movement for equality and racial justice. In 1963, at only 23 years old, he was the youngest person to speak at the famous March on Washington nearly 60 years ago.
Lewis was the last surviving speaker from the historic event until his death on Friday from cancer.
Two years after his March on Washington speech, Lewis made history again when he led a group of protesters in Selma, Ala., across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to fight racial injustice and commemorate the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a Black man killed at the hands of an Alabama state trooper.
The protest would turn violent when police awaited the marchers outside of the bridge and assaulted them with clubs and tear gas. Lewis was hospitalized with a fractured skull and many others were injured that day at the hands of Alabama authorities. That day in Selma would later be known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Lewis was given the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011, the highest civilian honor granted by a president. He made a career in politics for fighting against the same injustices that made him famous in the 1960s. Lewis felt like getting in ”good trouble” was necessary for progress.
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” the congressman said in a tweet in 2018..
NBA stars LeBron James and Chris Paul took time to honor the contributions of Lewis late Friday night.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also honored Lewis on his own Twitter feed.
“John Lewis’ stature in the Civil Rights Movement was gigantic and the example he set for people like myself will endure,” said Abdul-Jabbar.
The NBA posted a tribute to Lewis on its social media feed this morning and was followed shortly by the NHL.
Former Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and Phillies standout Andrew McCutchen also highlighted Lewis’ courage.
Sue Bird also paid her respects.
President Donald Trump has ordered all flags to half-staff today to honor Lewis and his impact on our country. Many believe that Lewis, for his many contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, deserves a statue erected in his honor.
The statesman will live on in history for his acts of bravery in the fight against racial inequality.
His spirit of courage and tenacity for justice will be admired long after his days on this earth.