For Immediate Release: 
August 24, 2021
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) and Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) and other members of the House Democratic Caucus this evening for a press conference after House Democrats voted to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the full protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Below is a transcript of his remarks.

“All of us that that are standing before you that have been in the Congress of the United States had an extraordinary privilege and experience - we served with John Lewis in the Congress of the United States. The ‘Boy from Troy’ would be so proud of his ‘sister from Selma.’

“John Lewis was famous. An extraordinary picture was taken of John Lewis as he and 599 others, 600, young people mostly, walking across a bridge named for a Confederate general. Walking across that bridge to march to Montgomery for the premise that the color of my skin ought not to effect my right as an American citizen to vote. That’s what these folks are here for, from the state of Texas. They’re here doing the work that John Lewis and so many of his friends so nobly advanced, as Lincoln would have said.

“John Lewis was beaten and that picture made him famous. What made John Lewis great for 50 plus years thereafter – he kept his eye on the prize. And the prize was not just this bill, the prize was the beloved community – a community that accepted, lifted up, and enabled people to participate fully in their democracy.

“That’s what the John Lewis-Terri Sewell bill is all about. That’s why Jerry Nadler made sure this bill was going to be passed. That’s why Judge G.K. Butterfield, from the state of North Carolina, worked so hard to make sure that we passed a bill that would meet muster, we pray, with the Supreme Court of the United States. Zoe Lofgren, one of the great Members of this Congress – Constitutional experts of this Congress. Sheila Jackson Lee, a giant in her own right, fighting for the rights of people. Judy [Chu], Chuy [Garcia], thank you for your leadership as well. And one of our newest members, Troy Carter, from Louisiana.

“John Lewis, beaten in Selma. John Lewis, almost killed in Alabama, by troops deployed by the governor of that state, to say to people of color, you cannot register. And as Nancy [Pelosi] pointed out… [as students] tried to enter that door to the Alabama university, George Wallace stood there defiant – defiant of the Constitution, and we hold these truths to be self-evident.

“This is a wonderful day. John Lewis is saying to himself up there, and saying to all of us, you kept your eye on the prize. The prize was temporarily taken when we passed this bill, but the prize will be taken when Joe Biden signs this bill.

“So I am so honored to be here with my friend, Terri Sewell, a leader of the House of Representatives. Our Speaker, who has stood – she and I have known each other for… a few years. I was careful to not, you know, get too personal. She has been a giant on behalf of civil rights and human rights here and around the world.

“So, I know John Lewis is sitting up there, pretty close to the right hand in my view, saying well done, Nancy Pelosi, well done, Terri Sewell. Well done, Joyce Beatty, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, who worked this to make sure that we had that unanimous vote. Thank you Joyce Beatty, your leadership was critically important.  

“I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 15 times with John Lewis over the years. And half of those occasions, I held his hand as I walked across that bridge. And I felt the moral power of John Lewis. Our country was blessed with a man of his integrity, his character, and his inspiration. This bill, the John Lewis bill, H.R. 4 The People.”