Rep. John Lewis, champion of civil rights movement, hospitalized

Rep. John Lewis, champion of civil rights movement, hospitalized

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Rep. John Lewis, a champion of the civil rights movement and congressman for 31 years, has been hospitalized after falling ill on a plane.

The 78-year-old Democrat from Georgia was admitted for “routine observation,” according to spokesperson Brenda Jones.

“There is no cause for alarm,” Jones said in an email to ABC News. “He will be fine. He’s resting comfortably and expects to be released tomorrow.”

Rep. John Lewis waves as he thanks anti-gun violence supporters following a rally with fellow Democrats on the East Front steps of the U.S. House of Representatives Oct. 4, 2017 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Rep. John Lewis waves as he thanks anti-gun violence supporters following a rally with fellow Democrats on the East Front steps of the U.S. House of Representatives Oct. 4, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(MORE: Civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis says he thinks Trump ‘is a racist’)

Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB reported the congressman fell ill on a plane trip back to Atlanta, where he was to attend an event Saturday night.

The representative was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1960s and took part in many of the same iconic civil rights moments as King.

Montgomery Alabama, 1961Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Montgomery Alabama, 1961

As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the mid-’60s, he was one of the first Freedom Riders. He and 12 others, six of whom were black, traveled from Washington, D.C., to Louisiana to protest segregated interstate bus travel. He and the group were met by protesters who beat the group of students.

Lewis walked alongside the civil rights leader in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, when he was badly beaten by police while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

He suffered a fractured skull in the attack.

PHOTO: State troopers swing billy clubs to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., March 7, 1965. John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the foreground, is being beaten by a state trooper. AP Photo
State troopers swing billy clubs to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., March 7, 1965. John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in the foreground, is being beaten by a state trooper.

(MORE: Rep. John Lewis on not meeting with Trump: Martin Luther King Jr. ‘would have taken the same position I did’)

Lewis has served in Congress since January 1987. Currently representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, he has been re-elected 14 times — often running unopposed in recent years.

His activism did not stop in the 1960s, however. He has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and many of his policies since he took office. Recently, he took part in extensive protests against the president’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

Lewis was part of a march in Atlanta on June 30 to praise attendees causing “good trouble, necessary trouble” in trying to keep the pressure on the administration’s immigration policy.

“The world is crying with us,” Lewis told the crowd. “We must show the world that we are better than what is going on in America today.”

PHOTO: Rep. John Lewis speaks at the dedication of the Smithsonians National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Sept. 24, 2016.Joshua Roberts/Reuters FILE
Rep. John Lewis speaks at the dedication of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Sept. 24, 2016.

He skipped the president’s first official State of the Union address in January, telling ABC News’ “This Week,” that “I cannot sit there and listen to him.” He also skipped the president’s inauguration a year earlier, which brought on an attack from Trump.

“Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.,” Trump tweeted on Jan. 14, 2017. “I can use all the help I can get!”

Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, in February 2011 by then-President Barack Obama.

ABC News’ Quinn Owen contributed to this report.

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