NBCSL Statement on the Passing of John Conyers, Jr., Longest Serving Black Congressman

Rep John Conyers1

Washington DC —The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) is saddened by the news of the passing of former Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI), and extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Monica Conyers, their two sons, and the rest of the Conyers family.

Conyers, who represented Michigan in Congress for more than five decades, passed away on October 27, 2019, at the age of 90. He was the longest-serving African-American lawmaker in congressional history, a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and a champion for civil rights.

“Congressman Conyers was always at the forefront of critical issues affecting communities of color. He leaves a legacy of notable political and civil rights victories and a long list of legislative milestones. His impact on our nation and the political enfranchisement of African Americans will never be forgotten,” said the Honorable Gilda Cobb-Hunter, South Carolina State Representative and President of NBCSL.

Conyers was first elected in 1964, becoming one of five African Americans in the House. He served more than 50 years in Congress, becoming the sixth-longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history and the longest-serving African American member of Congress. During his tenure, which spanned 10 presidents, Conyers served as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and earned the title “Dean of the House of Representatives.”

Born in Highland Park, MI, Conyers grew up in Detroit and attended Wayne State University, where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees. He also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as part of a unit of African-American combat engineers. He then became a civil rights activist, taking part in voting rights efforts in Selma, AL in 1963, and served as an aide to Congressman John Dingell Jr., before making his own first bid for Congress in 1964.

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