As news of Rep. John Lewis’ death at age 80 spread early online Saturday, many high-profile admirers from politics and entertainment posted tribute messages and recollections from over the years, having met the 18-term Georgia congressman.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called him “one of the great heroes of American history,” TV talk show mogul Oprah Winfrey shared that last week when there were false rumors of Lewis’ death, she and CBS News anchor Gayle King called him and were able to have a conversation with him.
“I had a final chance to tell him what I’ve said every time I’ve been in his presence: “Thank you for your courage leading the fight for freedom,” Winfrey recalled. “My life as it is, would not have been possible without you.”
Ava DuVernay posted a clip from a press appearance following her film, “Selma,” where she shared the stage with Lewis. “What an icon,” she wrote. “So grateful to have had any time with him. What warmth and wisdom he leaves. My goodness, we will miss him so.”
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow shared an interview she did with Lewis in Kentucky in 2013 about the civil rights movement, writing that it was “one of the most memorable and moving experiences of my professional life.”
“John Lewis inspired millions to fight for justice,” former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter. “His courage helped transform this country. He won’t ever be forgotten by those who believe America can change when the people stand together and demand it. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.”
Former President Barack Obama also posted a lengthy statement on “Medium,” where he wrote that Lewis “not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”
Hillary Clinton tweeted alongside a photograph of herself with Lewis, that he was the truest kind of patriot.
“He believed America could be better, even live up to its highest founding ideals of equality & liberty for all,” Clinton wrote. “He made good trouble to help us get there. Now it’s up to the rest of us to carry on his work. Rest in power, my friend.”

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