John Conyers, the legendary Democratic Congressman from Michigan who served more than a half-century on Capitol Hill, died Sunday. He was 90 years old.
Conyers died in his sleep, according to PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who broke the news on Twitter. Conyers was the longest serving African-American in congressional history.
Conyers was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with Shirley Chisholm and the third-longest serving member of Congress overall. He served Detroit in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District for 53 years before resigning abruptly in late 2017 after facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment, which he adamantly denied.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now. This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children,” Conyers said at the time.
Prior to his resignation, Conyers had been hospitalized. It was unclear if he had any health problems that contributed to his death on Sunday.
The Detroit native was born May 16, 1929, and attended the city’s public schools before going on to graduate from Wayne State University and Wayne State Law School. While Conyers was earning his education, he was also earning his stripes in the military as a member of the Michigan National Guard and the United States Army Reserve. He also served one year in Korea during the Korean War.
After serving his country in the military, Conyers joined the staff of Michigan Rep. John D. Dingell while simultaneously working as the general counsel for three labor locals in Detroit. Conyers also served on the executive boards of Detroit’s American Civil Liberties Union and Michigan’s chapter of the NAACP.
Conyers was elected to Congress and in 1965 began serving the first of his 26 consecutive terms, a record that still stands among Black Congressman. During his time in Congress, Conyers chaired the House Committees for Government Operations, Legislation and National Security along with chairing the House Judiciary Committee and two of its subcommittees, crime and criminal justice.
“He sat on the panel in 1974 when it investigated President Richard Nixon and later voted to submit articles of impeachment to the full House (he supported all three articles),” the Detroit News reminded readers.
He was also a member of the House Committee on Small Businesses.
Conyers went on to chair the Judiciary Committee from 2007-11 and led the powerful House Oversight Committee as chair from 1989 to 2004.
After he stepped down in 2017, Conyers endorsed his son, John Conyers III, as his heir apparent. However, it would be his nephew, Ian Conyers, who would actually run — and lose — for the coveted position in Congress. Rashida Tlaib would go on to win the election to fill Conyers’ spot and become the first Muslim woman in Congress in August of 2018.
Conyers is survived by his wife Monica Conyers and their two sons, John Conyers III and Carl Edward.
Conyers’ death came just over a week after another legendary Black Congressman passed away. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who represented Baltimore in Congress for more than two decades, died on Oct. 17. He was 68.
See his life in photos.
Congressman John Conyers and Jesse Jackson on the ‘Issues and Answers’ program. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) photography,celebrities,arts culture and entertainment,horizontal,usa,television show,1970-1979,event,archival,jesse jackson sr.,john conyers,abc – broadcasting company
Representatives John Conyers Jr. and Shirley Chisholm.
Kweisi Mfume (Black Caucus Chairman), HillaryClinton and John Conyers meet with Black Caucus in Rayburn House Office Building.
(Photo by Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., D-Mic., speaks to reporters during a news conference. Conyers called for resignation of Attorney General Edwin Meese for his involvement in the Wedtech scandal.
Ranking Judiciary committee member Rep. John Conyers with New York Rep. Charles Rangel.
(Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Madeline Stallings, District Chair, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. and Rep. Bob Carr, D-Mich. at Focus Hope March at Detroit, Michigan on October 13, 1994. (Photo by Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)