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Public viewing of Rep. John Lewis lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda ends, final funeral on Thursday

in In Memoria/Politics & Social Justice by

In a somber, yet respectful mood, soldiers carry the casket of Rep. Lewis from the Capitol. Now his remains make it to his final resting place.

On Wednesday, the remains of Rep. John Lewis left the Capitol’s rotunda to be returned for his final burial in Georgia. He was the first Black legislator placed there. Just months before, his contemporary, Rep. Elijah Cummings, was laid in the National Statuary Hall, one of the Capitol’s chambers.

For days, many came to pay respects to departed congressman, Rep. Lewis at the Capitol. A highly regarded Civil Rights freedom fighter, and tenured Democratic legislature, Rep. Lewis passed at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer.

“He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect,” wrote former US President Barack Obama.

One of the last remaining Civil Rights leaders to have worked intimately with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the celebration of Rep. Lewis is finishing a six-day memorial that started July 25. A congressional official for Georgia’s 5th District, his casket was carried over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama this weekend. Also, he laid in state at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery and will lie in state on Wednesday at the Georgia State Capitol. His final funeral will be held Thursday, at the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

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| Read: Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights icon dies after battle with cancer, leaves legacy of justice and power |

Born and reared in Troy, Alabama, Rep. Lewis grew up against stories surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Shortly after his enrollment into Fisk University, he involved himself in desegregation efforts. By the time he was 21, he became an integral member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). 

In 1965, he organized a march across Edmund Pettus Bridge. Before demonstrators crossed the overpass, Alabama state troopers descended upon them, beating hundreds of protestors. Included in those badly bludgeoned was Rep. Lewis. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

In the late 1970s, Rep. Lewis traded picket lines for establishment politics. He served under President Jimmy Carter as an appointee to direct ACTION, a federal volunteer agency. In 1981, he was elected to Atlanta City Council. He won a seat in congress in 1986 after a contentious battle with Julian Bond, another Civil Rights icon. Since, he served as a lawmaker, dying with the reputation of being the “conscience of the U.S. Congress.”

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