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Illinois Legislative Black Caucus mourns loss of two civil-rights leaders
2020-07-25

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Springfield, IL-July 22, 2020—The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus ( ILBC ) joins the country in mourning the loss of two heroes and iconic figures of the civil-rights movement: Congressman John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian.

These two men gave their blood, sweat, tears and almost their lives, so that America can be the perfect manifestation of those words written in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men ( women ) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Lewis and Vivian both made America a better place.

The ILBC reflects as many of their individual careers have been both influenced and inspired by Lewis and Vivian. It does not go unnoticed that if it were not for the work of these two civil-rights pioneers and many others, who fought against authoritarianism, oligarchism and racism all inherent to Jim Crow, some of their colleagues and particularly, the members of the Illinois Black Caucus probably would not have the honor and privilege of serving the great people of Illinois. Lewis and Vivian risked it all, so the disenfranchised, disenchanted and voiceless people across America could freely express themselves by taking part in the democratic process of voting, without fear of harassment, intimidation and/or retaliation.

"It is with incredible sadness that we mourn the loss of John Lewis, and Rev. CT Vivian, whose selfless fights for voting rights, political empowerment, and racial justice expanded democracy across America and brought us closer to providing justice and peace for all people," stated state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly ( ILBC House Chair/D-Chicago )

State Sen. Christopher Belt ( ILBC Senate Chair/D-Centerville ) stated, "I am reminded of the words of the great author, philosopher and civil-rights leader Howard Washington Thurman, who said, 'The time and place of a man's body, is the time and place of his life. But the purpose of a man's life is as significant and eternal as he is able to will it with all of him.'

"I think it is safe to say, that these two men found their purpose in life and in doing so they moved America a little closer to an inclusive nation, where the concepts of 'Liberty and Justice for all' really apply to ALL. Finally, if we are to truly honor these two men, then we must commit ourselves to protecting the voting rights of all Americans, ensuring equal rights for all people and eliminating the scourge of the 'isms' in every aspect of our society."

The ILBC will continue to fight courageously for equity and opportunity in the wake of the death of these two trailblazing legends.

Congressman John Lewis died July 17 at age 80; Rev. C.T. Vivian passed away the same day at age 95.

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, established in 1968, is one of the oldest standing Black caucuses in the United States—even predating the foundation of the Congressional Black Caucus.


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