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Civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, passed away on Friday (July 17) of pancreatic cancer at 80 years old. 

As tributes poured in from around the world, former President Barack Obama released a powerful tribute to Lewis. 

In a post published on Medium titled “My Statement on the Passing of Rep. John Lewis,” Obama wrote, “I first met John when I was in law school, and I told him then that he was one of my heroes. Years later, when I was elected a U.S. Senator, I told him that I stood on his shoulders.”

He continued, “When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly.”

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