Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Honored At Capitol Hill Ceremony

John Lewis, the civil rights icon and late congressman from Georgia who represented Atlanta for more than three decades, is making his final visit to Washington, D.C., on Monday for a two-day farewell.

Lewis, the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington who was later revered as “the conscience of the Congress,” died July 17 after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

Lewis’ body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, making him the first Black lawmaker to receive the honor. A public viewing will be held outside, at the top of the east front steps, as a precaution amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are scheduled to pay tribute to Lewis during a private ceremony.

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Lewis’ longtime friend and fellow Congressional Black Caucus member, will deliver the benediction.

Following the ceremony, Lewis’ casket will be moved to the top of the Capitol steps for members of the public to pay their final respects.

A second public viewing will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday, with social distancing protocols for those in attendance.

The public events in Washington follow days of tributes for Lewis in Alabama. On Sunday, a horse-drawn carriage carried his casket on a final trip across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Alabama state troopers saluted Lewis as his casket made its way across the bridge, led by a trail of red rose petals.

It was as stark contrast to the way Lewis and hundreds of other marchers were met when they crossed the bridge in 1965 demanding that Black residents be given the right to vote.

Lewis and others were violently beaten by law enforcement on the bridge in a day that came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

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