Statement by UMass President Marty Meehan on the passing of Congressman John Lewis

I am truly saddened by the passing of my former colleague, mentor and dear friend, John Lewis.

Over the course of sixty years, Representative Lewis dedicated his life to the fight for equality and justice. His leadership within the Civil Rights movement and in public service has left an indelible impression on our nation. Those inspired by him will cross bridges and follow the paths he forged during decades of heroism and activism.

After I was elected to Congress in 1993, John was one of the first members that I was able to meet. John’s genuine openness to sharing his time, wisdom and experience is something I will be eternally grateful for. The many hours we spent discussing issues, talking about our districts and just getting to know each other will forever be among my fondest memories of my time in Washington. I consider myself extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to know John Lewis and to stand with him.

As we mourn the loss of one of our greatest and most revered leaders, we must take solace in knowing that not once in his eighty years did John ever give up. He remained unwavering and devoted to his life’s work through his final days. Without question, John Lewis stood out as a wise and dignified leader at a time when we truly needed such a person.

With his passing, we must embrace his call for “good trouble, necessary trouble,” and energize and commit ourselves to the fight for fairness, opportunity and justice. I can think of no better way to honor his legacy than to complete the work that John risked his life for and devoted his life to.

Congressman John Lewis and President Marty Meehan at an event at the UMass Club in 2018
Congressman John Lewis and President Marty Meehan at an event at the UMass Club in 2018