Lewis, who died Friday at age 80 from late-stage pancreatic cancer, was known to break a few rules in his day. In June 2016, he participated in a sit-in on the House floor seeking a discussion and vote on gun control legislation. The longtime civil rights activist and congressman said at the time he was doing what was right.
“Sometimes you have to violate a rule of law to uphold a greater law, a moral law. We have a right to stand up, to speak up, to speak out. We have a right to sit down, or to sit-in, to engage in nonviolent protest. It is always right to do right,” Lewis told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2016.
After Lewis’ death, the district posted about its schoolhouse namesake, remembering him for his courage and integrity. It celebrated the official opening of John Lewis Elementary School last October.
“It’s a great honor that DeKalb County School District had the first John R. Lewis Elementary,” Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris said. “Congressman Lewis is a great example of what it means to not only be a champion for children, but a longstanding champion for human and civil rights.”
The school’s building, at 2630 Skyland Dr. NE in Brookhaven, is a state-of-the-art structure using collaborative learning spaces, a courtyard and amphitheater. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 4, 2019, Lewis greeted and took pictures with students, staff and residents in attendance.
“I feel blessed. More than lucky. Blessed,” he said. “These children are so gifted. So beautiful and so smart. One day, these young people will help save America.”