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Head Start Mourns the Passing of Congressman John Lewis

July 18, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association’s Executive Director, Yasmina Vinci, issued the following statement on the legacy of U.S. Representative and Civil Rights icon John Lewis, who passed away Friday at the age of 80. 

“The Head Start community mourns the loss of Congressman John Lewis, a transformative leader and longstanding champion for Head Start children and families across the country,” Vinci said. “In his more than three decades in Congress, Representative Lewis showed us what it meant to be a true leader, to stick to one's principles, and to embrace ‘good trouble,’ when it means fighting for what is right.”

“The Head Start community will greatly miss Representative Lewis’s passionate commitment and his conscious leadership on Capitol Hill. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

A strong advocate for children and families, Congressman Lewis spoke up in support of Head Start many times over the years.  During difficult budget negotiations in 2013, when Head Start’s funding was in danger, he noted that  “Head Start was an important innovation of the civil rights movement,” referring to how Head Start was created in 1965 to give at-risk children of all backgrounds the opportunity to succeed in school and in life regardless of their circumstances at birth.

Prior to his election to Congress in 1987, Representative Lewis was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and a principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. We seek to honor his legacy by continuing the fight for racial equality and supporting all children in reaching their full potential with the Head Start model.