Former Rep. John Conyers dies
(CNN) — Former Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving black member of Congress and founder of the Black Caucus, died Sunday, his son, John Conyers III, told CNN. He was 90 years old.
Conyers was born in Detroit in 1929 and entered Congress in 1965 where he championed the Civil Rights Movement and pushed liberal legislation throughout his tenure.
A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Conyers was known as pushing a series of liberal causes, especially from his perch on the Judiciary Committee where he became the first African American to serve as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee in 2007.
Conyers represented parts of Detroit for more than 50 years before his resignation in 2017.
Conyers’ resolutely liberal stance on civil rights and civil liberties made him a political institution. He also fought for 15 years to get the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday designated a national holiday.
A jazz aficionado from an early age, Conyers became one of only six black House members when he narrowly won his first election in 1964.
But his legacy was smeared in 2017 following allegations that he sexually harassed female staffers. He denied the allegations but eventually stepped down, citing health reasons, saying his legacy couldn’t be diminished.
The Michigan Democrat faced an investigation by the House Ethics Committee into multiple allegations that he had sexually harassed women who worked with him when he told a Detroit area radio show that he’d step down from his seat in Congress.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” he told the Mildred Gaddis’ radio show at the time. “This too shall pass.” Conyers repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who now represents Conyers’ district, tweeted Sunday that he “never once wavered in fighting for jobs, justice and peace.”
“We always knew where he stood on issues of equality and civil rights in the fight for the people,” she said. “Thank you Congressman Conyers for fighting for us for over 50 years.”