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John Conyers
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Pramila Jayapal had a tough time with Conyers’ resignation

John Conyers. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Washington state Representative Pramila Jayapal says she struggled with her decision to call for Rep. John Conyers to resign because of the important role he played in the civil rights movement.

RELATED: Jayapal worried about US’ reputation

Jayapal says she came to Congress after being a civil rights activist and “none of the work” she did on immigrant rights issues would have been possible without Conyers’ leadership.

Jayapal said last week that Conyers should resign following allegations by former staffers accusing him of sexual harassment, including Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. On Monday, another allegation was lodged against him — a woman, who said she worked for Conyers more than a decade ago, alleged he touched her thighs while sitting in church.

Conyers, 88, was first elected in 1964 and became a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He co-sponsored a resolution recommending the impeachment of Richard Nixon and introduced a bill to study the harm done by slavery. He succeeded in getting Martin Lurther King Jr.’s birthday to be recognized as a national holiday. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 and inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” said the congressman, who has denied any wrongdoing. “This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

He announced his retirement Tuesday.

Jayapal says Democrats will “lose our moral authority if we also don’t call out those we love who have done things that are bad.” Jayapal says she also believes Roy Moore of Alabama should drop out of the Senate race in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers.

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