Former Representative John Conyers Jr., one of the most liberal members of Congress for over five decades, died at the age of 90 on Sunday in his Detroit home.
First elected in 1964 by a narrow margin, Conyers started his career as a staunch critic of the Vietnam War. At the time, he was one of only seven representatives who voted against the war.
He was also one of the leading figures in the establishment of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday as a National Holiday. Starting his campaign for the holiday days after Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, he accomplished this goal in 1983.
He also butted heads with then-President Ronald Reagan over his policy of “constructive engagement” with the apartheid regime in South Africa, and was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971.
Conyers Jr. was a Detroit native who graduated from the city’s own Northwestern High School. He was a Veteran, enlisting in the Army in 1950 and serving as a second lieutenant in the Korean War before being discharged in 1954.
Upon returning from Korea, Conyers enrolled at Wayne State University, earning a Bachelors degree in 1957 and a law degree in 1958. He started his political career as a legislative aide to Representative John D. Dingell Jr., who in 2009 became the longest-serving congressperson in United States’ History.
Conyers’ political career represents the sixth-longest tenure of any congressperson in history, and the longest ever for an African American.
He is survived by wife, Monica, and sons, John and Carl. His family remembers him as a snazzy dresser and aficionado of Jazz music. In 1987, he convinced Congress to pass a resolution designating Jazz music as a “national American treasure.”
Funeral/Visitation/Celebration of Life arrangements for the late Congressman have yet to be announced. 105.1 will be reporting these details as soon as they become available.