(CNN) -- John Robert Lewis, the son of sharecroppers who survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, to become a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman, has died after a six-month battle with cancer.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced his death in a statement. He was 80.
"Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress," the California Democrat said.
Lewis died on the same day as civil rights leader the Rev. Cordy Tindell "C.T." Vivian, who was 95. The dual deaths of the civil rights icons come as the nation is still grappling with racial upheaval in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the nation.
It's another blow for a country still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, reeling from the deaths of nearly 140,000 Americans from Covid-19 as it has affected nearly every aspect of American life.