John Conyers Jr., a Korean War veteran who was the longest serving African American member of Congress in U.S. history, died Sunday at age 90, Detroit police have confirmed.

Arnold Reed, a lawyer for Mr. Conyers, was shaken by the news.

“Well, the only thing I can do is confirm his passing,” Reed said Sunday. “It has gotten us all out of sorts here. And I really have to just sit down, for a moment.”

During his 53 years in the U.S. House, Mr. Conyers built a reputation as a champion for civil and human rights.

The Detroit Democrat was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969, which promotes the legislative concerns of black and minority communities.

His legacy was clouded by allegations that he sexually harassed or mistreated several female staffers — complaints that prompted his resignation in December 2017. 

Mr. Conyers denied the claims of misconduct and said at the time of his resignation he hoped his departure would be viewed “in the larger perspective of my record of service.”

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