- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

Politicians and others across the nation are reacting to the death of journalist John Seigenthaler, who edited The Tennessean newspaper, helped shape USA Today and worked for civil rights during the Kennedy administration.

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“During the years I worked for him, John taught me to see politics and public service through a completely different lens. Some of the things that had earlier caused me to feel disillusioned began to appear in my mind as things that needed to be exposed and fixed. It was because of John Seigenthaler that I really came back to thinking that maybe I had some contribution to make in that field. In all the years since, I have frequently turned to John for advice and counsel. And I found, as did so many others he mentored and inspired, that his wisdom, character and insight were always unique and invaluable. He commanded respect from all who knew him because of his integrity and character and because he was always a force for good in everything he did. Our state and our nation have lost a true giant.” - Former Vice President Al Gore, who said Seigenthaler hired him in 1971 to work at The Nashville Tennessean.

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“John was among the greatest champions of First Amendment freedoms in large part because he genuinely believed democracy worked best when people listened to each other.” - Tom Curley, former president and CEO of The Associated Press.

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“John Seigenthaler was nothing short of an institution whose impact was felt all around the country. John was a journalist first, an ardent supporter of a free press, a pioneer in the civil rights movement and one of the most kind, wonderful people I have known. I will miss his friendship and wisdom and feel fortunate to have had the privilege of knowing him. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Seigenthaler family and all those who were touched by his life.” - U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

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“My favorite image of John Seigenthaler - which I suspect was his favorite, too - is of him so happily holding his baby grandson Jack in his arms while making a patriotic address at the Whitland Avenue Fourth of July celebration. For a half century, John was the conscience of Nashville, a fighter for civil rights and free speech and a friend Honey and I will greatly miss.” - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

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“John Seigenthaler was a powerful man who used his influence to make Nashville, our state, and the entire country better. Before swearing Lamar Alexander in three days early as governor in 1979, the political leaders involved on both sides of the aisle agreed that John Seigenthaler had to be on board with the plan first. His steady voice and thoughtful approach will be missed.” - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

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“To know John Seigenthaler was to reinvigorate your faith in America. He devoted his life as few others have to the ideals of our Constitution - as a part of the Kennedy team, a civil rights pioneer, an internationally respected journalist, a front-line defender of our First Amendment rights. He was always constructive, always passionate and always there.” - Former Tennessee Gov. Philip Bredesen.

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“Today we lost an iconic figure in Nashville’s history - a man who stood for inclusiveness long before it was synonymous with our city’s culture. As a journalist, John did much more than bear witness to political and community affairs; he helped shape Nashville’s story, laying much of the groundwork for us to become the great city we are today. Personally, he has been an adviser and a friend. Our city will feel his absence.” - Nashville Mayor Karl Dean.

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“John defined liberalism in the South for over half a century. He risked his life to protect Freedom Riders, epitomized the golden age of journalism and faithfully guarded the frontiers of Camelot. His wife Dolores was his muse, his grandson Jack his delight, and no one did more to make our city of Nashville great.” - U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.

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“John Seigenthaler was a true American hero. He was a man of devout faith and deep patriotism who used his unceasing compassion and incredible courage to fight for the rights of all Americans.” - Roy Herron, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

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“John worked tirelessly until his passing. He accomplished more in a day than colleagues one fourth his age. He ran through the finish line, not to the finish line.” - James Duff, chief executive officer, Newseum Institute.

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