NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today issued the following statement on the passing of civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.-5): 

“Today is a sad day for America. John Lewis –often referred to as the Conscience of Congress– was an extraordinary public servant with a heart full of love and compassion for others. John’s lifetime of advocacy for racial, social and economic justice paved the way for the tremendous progress our country made in the past 60 years. From his work as a young activist to his service as a Congressman, John never forgot the people he was fighting for or the injustices he was trying to correct.

“John was a trailblazer who paved the way for Black Americans and other minority groups in this country. When they felt voiceless, he was their voice and champion. And I know if it wasn’t for his leadership and unwillingness to back down from a fight, I wouldn’t be a U.S. Senator today. It was a true honor to work alongside him for the past 27 years that I’ve been in Congress and I know I’m a better person and representative for New Jersey because of him. And there’s no doubt, the world is a better place because of the light he shone on others.

“As we mourn his loss, we remember and honor the courage, determination, bravery and love for our nation that John showed us in moments that shaped our history: descending on Washington alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the ‘March on Washington’ in 1963, facing down protesters at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge that ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1965, and most recently –as he fought his last battle against cancer– visiting the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., and serving as an inspiration for future generations to come to continue the fight for justice and equality.

“John’s life’s work shouldn’t be in vain. So let’s continue fighting to correct the injustices that still plague our nation. Let’s take a page from John’s book and make some ‘good trouble’ and  not stop until every man and woman in this country, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, are afforded the same rights, dignity, and respect.

“May his soul rest in peace and may his conscience continue to guide Congress during this turbulent time. My prayers go out to John’s family and staff during this difficult time.”