DETROIT (FOX 2) - Former U.S. Rep. John Conyers, one of the longest-serving members of Congress whose resolutely liberal stance on civil rights made him a political institution in Washington, has died. He was 90.
Detroit police confirm the death Sunday afternoon and added that it appears to have been of natural causes. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
For more than 50 years, the Highland Park native proudly served as a member of the US House of Representatives.
Conyers began serving his country back in 1948, first with the Michigan National Guard then with the US Army. In 1963, Conyers focused his attention on the Civil Rights Movement, taking part in the voter's registration drive in Selma, Alabama.
One year later, his decades-long tenure in the US Congress began. Conyers defeated Republican Robert Blackwell with 84% of the vote.
In the middle of Conyers' second term, Detroit was at a breaking point. Riots broke out in the summer of 1967 after word spread of excessive force by police against African Americans as they were leaving an unlicensed speakeasy. Violence and looting ensued and the crowds grew larger.
Conyers said he took to the streets with hopes of directing the people's rage into a more positive direction.
He continued to make a name for himself in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1969 Conyers was one of 13 founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Conyers was also responsible for introducing the bill that would make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday.
In his personal life, Conyers married his wife, Monica, in 1990. She had her own political aspirations and would go on to become Detroit City Council president in 2008. But just one year later she was caught in a bribery scandal. She was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison.
The couple survived the hardship, with both filing for divorce in 2015. But then in 2016 they renewed their vows.
"We're going to miss him. This world will miss him. This world was happy to have him and we're grateful for the legacy he has left," his wife Monica Conyers said Sunday.
In 2013 at a special gala in Detroit, Conyers was honored for making America a better place during his half-century of dedication as a lawmaker and civil rights leader.
His historical political career came to a tumultuous end in December of 2017. The long-time congressman retired amid accusations of misconduct in office. Conyers denied the claims.
At the end of his tenure, Conyers served 53 years in office, making him the longest-serving African American in congressional history.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.