PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. is in deep mourning over the passing of Congressman John Lewis, one of the most important figures in congressional and American history.

“John Lewis is not just my friend and my colleague but my hero and the hero of every member of our Congress. It is a rare privilege to serve beside your idol for over 20 years and I have had that privilege. It is no exaggeration to state that John Lewis changed America. Standing beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other giants, it was John’s courage that helped finally pull our nation towards equality for all Americans. John is a giant and one of the great Americans of the last century.

“To be in John’s presence was special. Whether in the Ways and Means Committee or on the streets of America, John inspired hushed awe and reverence. But he was kind, joyful, optimistic, and generous, and John never refused a greeting or a request for a picture. John’s voice is irreplaceable. The best we can do is try to live up to his courage to make America a better place. I am devastated by John’s passing.”