He was 90
by Frederick H. Lowe
John Conyers, Jr. the longest serving African American member of Congress and co-founder in 1969 of the Congressional Black Caucus, died Sunday in Detroit. He was 90 years old. The cause of death has not been revealed.
Mr. Conyers died two days after Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represented Maryland, was buried Friday after his body lay in state at the U.S. Capitol.
Mr. Cummings, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died October 17 in Baltimore. He was 68. Conyers and Cummings were both members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Mr. Conyers served 53 years in Congress. He was the sixth longest serving member of Congress before he resigned in 2017 amid sexual harassment allegations. During his tenure, he represented the 1st, 14th and 13th Congressional Districts in Detroit and the suburbs.
A graduate of Wayne State University and Wayne State University School of Law, voters elected Conyers to Congress in 1964.
He took the oath of office in 1965 during the Civil Rights struggle. He befriended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he hired Rosa Parks to work in his Detroit congressional office when no one else would give her a job.
Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the great civil rights victories, when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white man. Her refusal sparked the more than one year long Montgomery Bus Boycott that ended segregated seating on the city’s buses.
Conyers introduced the 1965 Voting Rights Act under President Lyndon Johnson, and he succeeded in establishing a national holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. King.
Conyers was chair of the House Judiciary Committee from 2007-11. And he led the powerful House Oversight Committee as its chair from 1989 to 2004.
As the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, he joined other committee members in 1974 submitting Articles of Impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon. However, Nixon resigned from office before he could be impeached.
Conyers was also chair House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 2004. Cummings held the same position when he died.
In addition, Conyers introduced in every Congress starting in 1989, legislation that would set up a commission to examine the institution of slavery in the nation and its colonies. The legislation recommended appropriate remedies.
He also pushed for a single-payer or government-directed health care system.
Mr. Conyers, the son of John Conyers, Sr., a labor lawyer, was born in Highland Park, Michigan, on May 16, 1929. He served in the Korean War.
He is survived by his widow and two sons.