Wayne State alumnus and former U.S. Representative for Michigan, John Conyers, died of natural causes at his home in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 27.

Conyers graduated from WSU with a B.A. and LL.B after having served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War. Conyers also served in the National Guard.

“Conyers represented and served the citizens of Detroit and this country for more than 50 years in Congress and was distinguished by a legacy of civil rights activism and unceasing advocacy for the poor and disenfranchised,” a statement issued by WSU’s communication team stated.

Conyers was the sixth longest serving African American member of Congress in U.S. history. 

Conyers was known in Congress as a staunch advocate of civil rights and social justice and a critic of U.S. foreign policy who lobbied for reparations for the descendants of African slaves.

Among Conyers many accomplishments as a U.S. representative were The Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Act of 1983. In addition, Conyers was one of the founding members and dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, the statement said.

Conyers resigned his position in 2017, after allegations emerged he had sexually harassed female staff members and had used taxpayer money to settle one of the harassment claims.

“Conyers spent his post-college days as a good friend and staunch supporter of Wayne State,” the statement said. “The university and the city of Detroit owes a huge debt of gratitude to Conyers for his years of outstanding service and commitment to the poor. Our deepest sympathies are with his family during this difficult time.”

 Sean Taormina is the features editor for The South End. He can be reached at staorm@wayne.edu

Cover photo courtesy of WSU communications team.

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