Photo credits: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
A lifelong American icon of the Civil Rights Movement took a final posthumous ride across a landmark, which was the setting that transformed his legacy as a warrior for non-violence.
The body of late Congressman John Lewis was taken across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. on Sunday (July 26), more than five decades after he and other civil rights activists marched for voting rights across the bridge but were met with violence from state and local police.
After a ceremony at Brown Chapel AME Church, the Georgia lawmaker’s body was carried by a horse-drawn carriage through downtown Selma to the bridge. The carriage paused at the bridge’s steel arch.
“His final march, that final crossing, so different than the first, speaks to the legacy that he leaves behind and the lives that he changed. It’s poetic justice that this time, Alabama state troopers will see John to his safety,” said Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell in her remarks during the ceremony.
Lewis, a sharecroppers’ son, died on July 17 after a battle with cancer. The 80-year-old civil rights icon became known as the “conscience of Congress.”
He was 25 when Alabama troopers viciously beat the marchers on March 7, 1965 in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” In the iconic march, a state trooper struck Lewis in the head with a baton and he lost consciousness.
Over the years, Lewis has been a powerful advocate for civil rights. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded Lewis the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
On Wednesday (July 29) the body will be taken to Georgia, where Lewis for a special ceremony in Atlanta at the State Capitol and the body will lie in state there.
Finally, on Thursday (July 30), funeral services will take place beginning at 11 a.m. at Ebeneezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary. The event is not open to the public. He will be buried at the historic South-View Cemetery in Atlanta.