President Donald Trump has spoken out on the death of Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, after getting backlash for his silence.
The Representative of Georgia’s 5th District died Friday (July 17) after battling Stage IV pancreatic cancer since December 2019.
Trump shared a brief statement following his passing on Saturday afternoon (July 18).
“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing,” he tweeted to his followers. “Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family.”
Reporters on CNN pointed out that both White House Press Secretary Kayley McEnany and Vice President Mike Pence issued statements before the president did, breaking from protocol:
Rep. Lewis and Trump had a contentious relationship. Prior to Trump’s inauguration after Lewis questioned “the legitimacy of Mr. Trump’s election and said that he would not be in attendance when the president-elect traveled to the Capitol to be sworn in,” according to The New York Times.
“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected,” Lewis said in an interview with NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” just days before Trump took office. “And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don’t plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in the Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.”
Lewis was a tireless activist for civil rights for over six decades, joining Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his fight for voting rights for African Americans when he was in his 20s.
He was also known for chairing and confounding the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He led the march that was halted by police violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965, a landmark event in the history of the civil rights movement that later became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)