Former US Representative John Conyers dies at age 90

Monday, October 28, 2019

Yesterday, former United States Representative John Conyers died in his sleep, according to a family spokesperson. Conyers, the former Democratic Dean of the House of Representatives, was 90.

Conyers in 2017
Image: U.S. Congress.

John James Conyers Jr., first elected to Congress in 1964, was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1929. After serving in the Korean War, he attended Wayne State University, receiving both a bachelor's degree and a law degree. He worked for three years for Representative John Dingell as an aide.

Conyers ran for Congress in 1964, winning by a margin of 108 votes. He took office in 1965, and spent the next five decades in Congress. He spent his time in the House promoting civil rights legislation, and from 1965 Rosa Parks worked for his Detroit office for 23 years, till her retirement. Starting in 1968, he spent 15 years fighting for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be a federal holiday; President Ronald Reagan signed Conyers's bill into law in 1983.

In 1971, Conyers co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus. He served as a member of the House Oversight Committee until 1995, then joined the House Judiciary Committee. He served as the chair of the Judiciary Committee while the Democratic party controlled the House from 2007 until 2011, and remained a member of the committee until he retired in 2017. According to Associated Press, Conyers was unique on the Judiciary Committee in having participated in the impeachment hearings of two different Presidents, Richard Nixon, in 1972, and Bill Clinton, in 1998.

In 2017, after sexual misconduct allegations came to light, Conyers resigned, referencing health issues. At the time, he had served in Congress longer than any other then-current member, earning him the distinction of Dean of the House of Representatives. NPR reported he had also served in Congress longer than any other African American, current or past.