Michigan Representative John Conyers, the longest-serving black member of Congress, has passed away at the age of 90.
What We Know:
- On Sunday, October 27, Detroit police say that Conyers, who was a Democratic and a former congressman, died in his sleep from natural causes. Conyers was also the founder of the Congressional Black Caucus.
- In 1964, Conyers became one out of six black House members that won his first election by 108 votes. Over the next fifty years, Conyers began to regularly win all elections with over 80% of the vote.
- During his career, Conyers was an advocate for the civil rights movement. For fifteen years, Conyers fought legislation consistently to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. In 1986, Dr. King’s birthday was officially commemorated and celebrated, nationwide. From 1965 to her retirement in 1988, Conyers employed civil rights leader Rosa Parks at his Detroit district office. Then, in 1989, he introduced a bill to Congress that studied the harm of slavery on black people and the possibility of reparations for living slave descendants. Unfortunately, the bill never made it past a House subcommittee.
- After a 53-year-long career in politics, Conyers became the first Capitol Hill politician to be terminated after rumors about sexual misconduct started to spread. One former member of his staff stated that she was fired due to refusal of his sexual advances. Although Conyers denied the allegations, he decided to resign, citing health issues as the cause.
- Conyers vouched for his son to take his place after he resigned in 2017 but, he was unsuccessful. “My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” Conyers said during a Detroit radio station interview. “This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”
Conyers leaves behind his wife of twenty-nine years, Monica, his two children, John III and Carl Edward and his grandson, Ian Conyers, who ran for Michigan Senate in 2016. Sending condolences to the city of Michigan and the entire Conyers family.