U.S. representative and civil rights leader John Lewis will be undergoing treatment for stage IV pancreatic cancer.
“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” he said in a statement.
The 79-year-old Lewis, a Democrat, who has represented Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District since 1987, is an icon of the civil rights movement.
Having grown up during the era of segregation, he joined the Freedom Riders in 1961.
The Freedom Riders were a group of white and African American civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the American South to protest racially-segregated public buses.
In 1963, Lewis was one of the youngest leaders who spoke at the March on Washington. This is also where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 1965, Lewis participated in the 80 kilometer march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama, to raise awareness for African American voters’ rights. (Para7) The brutal events that day became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
After crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, scores of marchers were beaten by armed state troopers. Lewis received a fractured skull.