'American Hero': Elected Leaders In NY, NJ Remember Rep. John Lewis

John Lewis
Photo credit Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images
By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Tributes from elected leaders in New York and New Jersey were pouring in Saturday for John Lewis, the longtime congressman and legendary civil rights leader from Georgia who died Friday at 80.

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney told WCBS 880 that Lewis was “a great friend, a great man.”

“It was an honor to serve with him and to know him,” she said.

Lewis became known as the “conscience of the Congress,” and Maloney said she could easily see why.

“When we had a huge battle or a huge fight, it was his voice that carried the message for the Democratic Party,” she said.

That was best exemplified, she said, when House Democrats staged a sit-in calling for gun control in June 2016. Lewis led the charge.

“Where is our soul? Where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage?” Lewis said at the time.

Maloney said Lewis humbly sat on the floor with them that night.

“All of us feel a responsibility to continue his work,” she said.

Sen. Cory Booker tweeted that “my heart is saddened.”

“Last night John Lewis died, but for 80 years he showed us how to truly live,” Booker wrote.

“From marching in Selma to serving in the House, Representative John Lewis spent his life fighting for civil rights for every single American,” Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted. “He is an American hero and a giant. And we are all better for the ‘good trouble’ he made. Rest in peace, John.”

Sen. Bob Menendez called Lewis “an extraordinary public servant with a heart full of love and compassion for others.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted that Lewis’ “courage and iconic leadership—in the civil rights movement and in the House—awakened the consciousness of our nation. It was an honor to serve with him.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Lewis, “One of the greatest men this country has ever known.”

Gov. Phil Murphy said he was ordering all U.S. and New Jersey flags to fly at half-staff at state buildings in Lewis' memory. "In our sorrow, let us commit to carrying on his work, and building upon the tremendous legacy which is his lasting gift to us all," Murphy tweeted.

“A truly honorable man of courage and great leadership,” Rep. Pete King tweeted. “Proud to serve with him. Will miss him being in the office next to mine after these many years.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that, "From his youth, John Lewis gave his blood, sweat, tears, and life in the struggle for a better nation."