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Then-President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to Rep. John Lewis at the White House in Washington, D.C., in 2011. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to Rep. John Lewis, who died on Friday at age 80, for making his life's work to "challenge an unjust status quo, and to imagine a better world."

Details: In a blog posted to Medium on Saturday morning, Obama noted that the civil rights great, who helped organize the historic 1963 March on Washington and led the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches, "loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise."

"[T]hrough the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example."

What else he's saying: Obama recalled the last time he and Lewis shared a public forum was "at a virtual town hall with a gathering of young activists who were helping to lead this summer’s demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death."

  • He said Lewis "could not have been prouder of their efforts" in "standing up for freedom and equality," and that he told the congressman those young people "were his children." "They had learned from his example, even if they didn’t know it," he said.
  • "Not many of us get to live to see our own legacy play out in such a meaningful, remarkable way," Obama added. "John Lewis did. And thanks to him, we now all have our marching orders — to keep believing in the possibility of remaking this country we love until it lives up to its full promise."

The big picture: Obama presented Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

  • The former president recalled in his blog hugging Lewis on the inauguration stand before he was sworn in, telling him he "was only there because of the sacrifices he made," and noting that he "never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement" to him and his family.

Of note: Lewis originally endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2007. Per CNN, he decided to back Obama instead in early 2008, saying: "Something is happening in America."

  • Ahead of Obama's inauguration in 2009, Lewis told Time Magazine, " I never thought — I never dreamed — of the possibility that an African American would one day be elected President of the United States.
  • "My mother lived to see me elected to the Congress, but I wish my mother and father both were around," he continued. "They would be so happy and so proud, and they would be so gratified. And they would be saying that the struggle, and what we did and tried to do, was worth it."

Go deeper: John Lewis remembered as "one of the greatest heroes of American history"

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Oct 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's diverse Cabinet

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

If Joe Biden wins the presidency, his advisers plan to assemble the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history as he works to fulfill a pledge to build the Democratic Party on a new generation of leaders.

The big picture: Many of Biden's longtime aides, most of whom are white and male, are expected to follow him to the West Wing. That means the pressure will be on to recruit a Cabinet that's both younger and more diverse.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.