John Lewis Honored On Twitter As Georgia Makes Senate History: He’s ‘Smiling Down’

The late Rep. John Lewis was widely honored on Twitter Wednesday after the Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday’s runoff election in Georgia, becoming the first Black senator to ever represent the state.

Democrat Jon Ossoff maintained a lead on Wednesday morning over Republican David Perdue, whose Senate term expired on Sunday. With Ossoff’s expected win, there will be a 50-50 tie in the Senate, with incoming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker, giving Democrats control of the Senate. 

Many people celebrated the late Georgia congressman’s impactful voting rights legacy in light of the results of the runoff election and the high levels of Black voter turnout.

Lewis spent much of his life fighting for voting rights.

The civil rights icon was 25 years old when he had his head fractured by police while he and several hundred others peacefully marched the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama in 1965 to fight Black disenfranchisement on the day known as “Bloody Sunday.”

On Wednesday, elected officials and activists renewed calls for Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in honor of Lewis.

A 2013 Supreme Court ruling, Shelby County v. Holder, notably struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act by allowing states ― particularly jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory practices ― to change their election laws without pre-clearance from the federal government. Activists and elected officials have long decried the ruling as enabling voter suppression. 

In December 2019, the House, with Lewis presiding, passed a voting rights bill to restore the pre-clearance protections of the Voting Rights Act. Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to move the amendment toward a Senate vote. Lewis died in July at 80.

Former President Barack Obama joined other Twitter users celebrating Lewis on Wednesday.

“My friend John Lewis is surely smiling down on his beloved Georgia this morning, as people across the state carried forward the baton that he and so many others passed down to them,” he wrote.

Over the weekend, artist John Quigley and Nebraska farmer Art Tanderup led an effort to create a portrait of Lewis on 40 acres of farmland in Irwin County, Georgia.

The crop art, intended to inspire voter participation ahead of the runoff elections, depicted a famous mugshot of Lewis taken 1961, after he was arrested for using a whites-only restroom.

“[It was] such an honor to just work towards a tribute or an honoring of John Lewis, one of the truly great humans,” Quigley told HuffPost on Tuesday.

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