On Friday, Georgia Democratic Congressman John Lewis passed away after a months-long battle with cancer. Lewis had been a very high-profile figure in the Civil Rights Movement, and his work stretched across decades. Among other high-profile parts of his past, he was one of the speakers at the D.C. event where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, and he was one of the “Freedom Riders” who rode on buses across the South in an attempt to desegregate public transportation. Lewis was repeatedly beaten and jailed during his work. Tributes immediately began to pour in — including from Utah’s Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who spoke out before any actual official statement from the president himself.
‘With the passing of John Lewis, America has lost not only a man of history, but a man for our season; O how we need such men of unwavering principle, unassailable character, penetrating purpose, and heartfelt compassion.’
With the passing of John Lewis, America has lost not only a man of history, but a man for our season; O how we need such men of unwavering principle, unassailable character, penetrating purpose, and heartfelt compassion.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 18, 2020
Recently, Romney has been one of the very, very few Republican leaders who have shown any kind of support for the Black Lives Matter movement amidst the recent nationwide surge in protests against police brutality and other vestiges of societally-embedded racism. Romney even participated in a protest march in D.C., and he freely used the slogan “Black Lives Matter,” which seriously should not be in any way controversial — obviously! — and yet has become a political football thanks to right-wing opposition. Trump, for his part, has denigrated the Black Lives Matter movement as supposedly some kind of secret attack against American values — which is really just barely veiled racism from the president.
Trump, for his part, went golfing on Saturday morning. The closest thing to a public statement from him about Lewis’s passing was a Saturday White House proclamation for flags to be flown at half-staff for the day in honor of the late Civil Rights leader and Congressman. (The proclamation emerged after Romney’s tweet.) Trump’s allies in the Senate like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have worked to block legislation that Lewis worked for, including a bill restoring the Voting Rights Act to its full original standing. The restoration would entail restoring a requirement for federal oversight of elections processes in certain jurisdictions, which would be meant as a protection against the disenfranchisement of black Americans.
Meanwhile, check out Twitter’s response to Romney below: