While Conyers was earning his education, he was also earning his stripes in the military as a member of the Michigan National Guard and the United States Army Reserve.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who was elected past year to the office Conyers held for so long, called him "our congressman, forever".
Conyers' longevity in Congress was punctuated by a contentious resignation in 2017 amid allegations of sexual harassment.
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"John Conyers spent his life championing those causes. From co-founding the Congressional Black Caucus to leading the fight in Congress to enshrine Martin Luther King's birthday as a national holiday, John Conyers' impact on our city and nation will never be forgotten".
Conrad Mallett is one of the people Conyers helped.
The Michigan Democrat was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. "He has fought for a better Detroit for more than half a century".
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"We want him to stand strong", Conyers said in 2009.
Then - with media reports that some members of the caucus were privately urging him to resign - he suddenly quit Washington, missing several votes, including one mandating sexual harassment training for members, as he headed back to Detroit and his family.
While in Congress, Conyers focused his efforts on advancing civil rights legislation, expanding voting rights and improving the MI economy.
Conyers, however, had already come under scrutiny twice from the House Ethics Committee in Congress for possible transgressions in his office.
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Conyers died in his sleep, according to PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who broke the news on Twitter. Conyers denied any wrongdoing. He was the only member of the House judiciary committee to take part in impeachment proceedings against both Richard Nixon, in 1974, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett said he had used ineligible people to gather signatures, but a federal court disagreed and the state Legislature passed a law that people who collected signatures didn't need to be registered voters.