The office of U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has confirmed that his wife, Lillian, died Monday morning in Atlanta. She was 73.
Details on her death were not available late Monday.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lillian Lewis grew up in Los Angeles and developed a lifelong interest in Africa. She taught in Nigeria in 1960 in a student program and later returned to Africa in the Peace Corps. The newspaper said,
It was after taking a job as a librarian at Atlanta University (the predecessor, with Clark College, of today’s Clark Atlanta University) that she met her husband at a 1967 New Year’s Eve party at the home of television personality and civil rights activist Xernona Clayton. Clayton and another movement veteran, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, played matchmaker.
The two began a courtship, often double-dating with Julian and Alice Bond, movement friends who would become bitter rivals when Bond and Lewis opposed each other in a 1986 congressional race.
Lewis and his wife were married in December 1968 at Ebenezer Baptist Church by the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. They have a son, John-Miles Lewis.
Mrs. Lewis was said to have played a major role in the civil rights movement at the side of the longtime congressman from Georgia.
No word yet has been given as it relates to funeral arrangements or cause of death.
John Lewis was a civil rights leader before being elected to Congress. He represents the 5th District in Georgia, which includes Decatur and part of Avondale Estates.
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