Councilman in Lewis’ old seat: ‘John Lewis means everything to me’

In Atlanta, it's easy to find supporters of Congressman John Lewis. But most haven't spent as much time working to honor the 79-year-old civil rights legend than Andre Dickens.

Dickens, who holds the Atlanta City Council seat that Lewis held in the early 1980s, worked to change the name of Freedom Parkway to John Lewis Freedom Parkway. Dickens also pushed for the new permanent art exhibit in Lewis' honor at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

It's no surprise Dickens was crestfallen when he heard Sunday that the Congressman has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

“John Lewis means everything to me,” Dickens said Monday, standing near the mural of Lewis at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive. “He’s an American hero.”

Lewis is also a friend to Dickens.

They’ve grown to know one another in the past few years, spending time together at Lewis’ home and his Washington, D.C. office.

The relationship between the men isn’t mentor and mentee, as one might expect, or even official to official.

“I’m an elected official,” Dickens said, “but when I’m around him I’m just a fan.”

Now Dickens is pulling for his hero to make it through. Dickens takes comfort in one fact about Lewis, a man who’s been beaten by racist mobs and whose skin still bears the scars.

Said Dickens: “The Congressman has been a fighter all his life.”