He won his seat in Congress in 1986 and spent much of his career in the minority.
After Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Lewis became his party’s senior deputy whip, a behind-the-scenes leadership post in which he helped keep the party unified.
In an early setback for Barack Obama’s 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Lewis endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination.
Lewis switched when it became clear Obama had overwhelming Black support.
Obama later honored Lewis with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and they marched hand in hand in Selma on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attack.
President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday praised Lewis as a “giant” who became “the conscience of the nation.”
Lewis also worked for 15 years to gain approval for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Humble and unfailingly friendly, Lewis was revered on Capitol Hill — but as one of the most liberal members of Congress, he often lost policy battles, from his effort to stop the Iraq War to his defense of young immigrants.
He met bipartisan success in Congress in 2006 when he led efforts to renew the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court later invalidated much of the law, and it became once again what it was in his youth, a work in progress.