Legendary Congressman & Civil Rights Leader John Conyers Dies at 90

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John James Conyers Jr. (May 16, 1929 – October 27, 2019) was an American politician of the Democratic Party who served as a U.S. Representative for Michigan from 1965 to 2017. The districts he represented always included part of western Detroit. During his final three terms, his district included many of Detroit’s western suburbs, as well as a large portion of the Downriver area.

Conyers served more than 50 years in Congress, becoming the sixth-longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history; he was the longest-serving African American member of Congress. Conyers was the Dean of the House of Representatives. By the end of his last term, he was the last remaining member of Congress who had served since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

After serving in the Korean War, Conyers became active in the civil rights movement. He also served as an aide to Congressman John Dingell before winning election to the House in 1964. He co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969 and established a reputation as one of the most liberal members of Congress. Conyers joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus after it was founded in 1991. Conyers supported the creation of a single-payer healthcare system and sponsored the United States National Health Care Act to achieve that goal. He also sponsored a bill to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. Conyers ran for Mayor of Detroit in 1989 and 1993, but he was defeated in the primary in both elections.

Conyers served as the ranking Democratic member on the House Committee on the Judiciary from 1995 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2017. He served as chairman of that committee from 2007 to 2011 and as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 1995. In the wake of allegations that he had sexually harassed female staff members and secretly used taxpayer money to settle a harassment claim, Conyers announced his resignation on December 5, 2017.

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