Reverend Peter Johnson, a civil rights activist and North Texan, thinks back over the life of Congressman John Lewis.
A life Johnson said he was a part of since Johnson was a senior in high school in Louisiana.
“I became friends with John Lewis in 1963," Johnson said. "Remained friends with him up until his death. Worked shoulder to shoulder with him throughout the South doing voter registration and political education.”
That voter registration work led Johnson to North Texas where he continued to work with Lewis.
News from around the state of Texas.
“John Lewis and the late Julian Bond every year in the month of May would come to Dallas," Johnson said. "We would have a breakfast or luncheon and they’d bring me a big check. I would take that check and hire college students from Bishop College.”
The last time he saw his dear friend was two years ago at the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
“The last time I saw him we hugged," Johnson said. "We were in front of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee for the anniversary of Dr. King’s death. When I saw john we just ran and hugged each other.”
He said Lewis was always someone he admired.
“All the beatings and brutality, people spitting in his face, john maintained his dignity and his cool as the leader of the student movement and helped changed not just America, changed the world,” Johnson said.
He hopes Lewis' memory continues to do the same.
“John Lewis will always remain as a giant in my mind and in my heart.”
Johnson hopes people will increase voter registration as a way to honor Lewis since it was something he fought for so hard.
Multiple Texas lawmakers, current and former, released statements on the death of Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis on Friday night at 80-years-old.
President George W. Bush put out a statement urging the country to continue fighting for liberty and justice for all in Lewis' memory:
"Laura and I join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of Congressman John Lewis. As a young man marching for equality in Selma, Alabama, John answered brutal violence with courageous hope. And throughout his career as a civil rights leader and public servant, he worked to make our country a more perfect union. America can best honor John's memory by continuing his journey toward liberty and justice for all."
Sen. Ted Cruz put out a statement reminiscing on a memory from his first year in the Senate traveling to Nelson Mandela's funeral in Johannesburg:
"Heidi and I join men and women across the globe in grieving the loss of the great John Lewis. In my first year in the Senate, I had the privilege of traveling with John and much of the Congressional Black Caucus to Nelson Mandela's funeral in Johannesburg. During the trip, John regaled us with stories of being alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As one of the original Freedom Riders, John was a young man at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, and he survived a brutal beating on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. At 23, he was a keynote speaker at the March on Washington, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
"To say he was an icon or a hero is an understatement. He had a quiet grace, a passion for justice, and an indomitable courage that helped transform this nation. I am blessed and humbled to have known John and to have heard his deep wisdom firsthand. Heidi and I are lifting up in prayer his family, his loved ones, and all of America as we mourn the loss of a good and great man. His legacy will endure on as we continue to strive for justice for all."
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson tweeted her statement reminiscing on Lewis' lasting legacy.
Rep. Colin Allred released the following statement:
“Aly and I were heartbroken to learn of the passing of Congressman John Lewis. Congressman Lewis is the reason I became a civil rights lawyer, and I would not be a member of Congress if it wasn’t for his love of his country and his commitment to fighting for the soul of our nation by causing some good trouble.
“Heartbreak cannot describe the pain we feel after such a loss. But Congressman Lewis in many ways was more than a man, he represented the best of us and the best of our nation. As we mourn together, I want to share a powerful quote from Congressman Lewis.
‘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.’
“We have so much work to do to finish the work of Congressman Lewis. We will honor his life by continuing his commitment to remain so incredibly hopeful for change, despite seeing the darkest of times. “Aly and I send our deepest condolences to the Lewis family, his constituents in Georgia and to the countless others whose lives he touched.”
Sen. John Cornyn recognized Lewis' global impact in his tweet remembering the Georgia congressman.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee remembered her friend Lewis by posting multiple pictures they had together.
Rep. Joaquin Castro tweeted a thread about Lewis saying, "John was the one person who - when he spoke on the House floor - everyone would be quiet and actually listen respectfully — without grievance or cynicism."
Rep. Michael Burgess commended Lewis for his contributions as a civil rights leader and a congressman.
Rep. Marc Veasey tweeted a thread saying, "I am privileged to have worked beside this giant in Congress and to regard him as a friend and mentor. His memory will continue to be an inspiration that moves us all to stand up to injustice and to make ‘good trouble.’"
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson thanked Lewis for his contributions to the civil rights movement.
Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall who has been a force for diversity and inclusion in the Mavs organization also tweeted condolences.