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Emory statement on the death of Rep. John Lewis

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Rep. Lewis served as Emory’s Commencement speaker twice, first in Atlanta in 2014 and then in 2019 at our Oxford campus. Emory Photo/Video

Emory University President Claire E. Sterk and President-elect Gregory L. Fenves issued the following statement: 

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman John Lewis. His extraordinary life inspired us all. Rep. Lewis’ moral clarity, dedication to protecting human rights, and securing civil liberties for African Americans earned him widespread respect and admiration in Atlanta, Georgia, our nation, and around the world. 

Rep. Lewis embodied Emory’s mission to serve humanity and it was always an honor and a privilege to have him on campus. He served as Emory’s Commencement speaker twice, first in Atlanta in 2014 and then in 2019 at our Oxford campus. He was a frequent guest lecturer and met with hundreds of Emory students, faculty and physicians over the years.

To the very end, Rep. Lewis was a towering figure for social justice. His passing came on the same day as that of another civil rights leader, Rev. Cordy Tindell “C.T” Vivian. These two icons fought for equality and human rights and challenged racial injustice  struggles that remain relevant today.

Emory is proud to have had Congressman John Lewis as our representative in the U.S. Congress. We remain grateful for his willingness to always listen, learn and assist. His integrity combined with a commitment to public service earned him a reputation for reaching across the political spectrum for the benefit of all Georgians.

Further, the sense of purpose he brought to Congress, born of the courage and moral resolution he demonstrated in the civil rights movement, enabled him to influence important conversations and inspire others to join him in pursuing solutions to difficult problems. 

Emory joins Atlanta and the rest of the country in mourning the loss of a remarkable leader and friend. While he is no longer with us, we will continue the university’s work to live by his example. On behalf of Emory, we extend our deepest condolences to the entire Lewis family.

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