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While many are rightfully still reeling from the loss of Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, the news of Rep. John Conyers death’s only adds to the grief. The longtime Detroit lawmaker was born in Highland Park, Mich. on May 16, 1929.

Conyers embarked on a military career out of high school, first with the Michigan National Guard, then the U.S. Army, and lastly with the U.S. Army Reserves. After his military career ended, Conyers entered Wayne State University, earning a bachelor’s and a L.L.B. degree.

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Ahead of his political career, Conyers was active in the civil rights movement. After getting elected to represent Michigan’s 1st District in 1964, he began his long half-century trek as a politician the following year, representing the 14th District in 1993, and then the 13th District in 2013, before resigning after a number of sexual harassment claims.

Conyers also faced other controversies, including accusations that he ordered staffers to tutor his wife and children, and used government vehicles for his personal errands, making staffers drive him around to appointments.

Despite the dings to his legacy, Conyers advanced liberal policies and was a champion of the working class in Detroit. He was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was the longest-serving Black Congress member in history. Conyers was also the first Black Dean of the House, which designates the longest continually serving member.

In addition to a number of measures that aided Michigan residents, one of his most notable pieces of legislation was first introducing the bill declaring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.

Conyers is survived by his wife, Monica Esters Conyers, and sons John III and Carl Conyers.

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