John Lewis is not dead, a spokesperson said after a fellow member of Congress took to Twitter to share condolences for his passing.
The news of his reported passing was first shared by House colleague Rep. Alma S. Adams, who made a post sharing her condolences.
“Words cannot do John Lewis justice because everything he did was in the service of Justice,” Adams shared in a post that was later deleted. “He gave everything — including his blood and his body — to the Movement. It was an honor to make ‘good trouble’ with John in the House, and I will miss both my friend and the man himself.”
Adams deleted the tweet within minutes, later posting another tweet saying that the office had regretted “a previous tweet based on a false news report.”
The tweet from Adams led to a flood of condolences for the Georgia congressman, though it was corrected within minutes by a spokesperson for Lewis, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported.
“It’s only rumors,” Michael Collins told the newspaper. “He is resting comfortably at home.”
Lewis has been in difficult health, sharing late last year that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Lewis, at the time, announced that he would start treatment and expressed optimism for his chances both of survival and making it through what had at one time been a grueling treatment.
“While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance,” Lewis said in the statement, via Fox News.
“I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community. We still have many bridges to cross.”
Lewis also assured supporters that he would not be stepping down from his duties while he was undergoing treatment. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, the illness forced Lewis to miss a number of in-person votes in Congress, but he was able to cast his vote using a proxy.
Lewis had been able to make some limited appearances in recent months, the report noted, including a tour of the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C.
The Georgia congressman was a major figure in the Civil Rights movement, leading a number of efforts as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Lewis was one of the first “freedom riders,” a group who traveled by bus to sit at segregated lunch counters in an effort to press the federal government into forcing the implementation of desegregation. The group often came under attack.
59 years ago today I was released from Parchman Farm Penitentiary after being arrested in Jackson, MS for using a so-called "white" restroom during the Freedom Rides of 1961. pic.twitter.com/OUfgeaNDOm
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) July 7, 2020
Lewis was also a leader of a group that attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in a march to the state capital. The group was attacked by a group of law enforcement officers on what was known as “Bloody Sunday,” with Lewis suffering serious injuries.