On Wednesday, the world says goodby to a civil rights icon with John Lewis‘ funeral in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lewis died earlier this month after a fight with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, which he announced late last year. His funeral, which starts at 11 a.m. follows a week of memorial services for the congressman who passed at 80 years old.
According to CBS News, former presidents are expected to speak at the funeral including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also expected to make some comments. His live funeral can be viewed here.
On Saturday, a memorial service was held in Troy, Alabama for Lewis before he took a trip across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Sunday. This was the same bridge where he was attacked and beaten by Alabama state trooper police during the march to Montgomery on March 7, 1965, which notoriously was known as “Bloody Sunday.” Lewis’ casket then made its way to Washington, D.C. where he was celebrated at a service at the U.S. Capitol and was the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Lewis has left behind a legacy of activism and service. He was the youngest person to speak at the 1963 March on Washington and he was a friend to Martin Luther King Jr. The HBCU graduate was inspired to organize around civil rights in part because of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was actively involved in protests against segregation. and he faced arrests and multiple beatings from racists objecting to nonviolent demonstrations he would organize as a student at Fisk University. Before his speech at the March on Washington, he was appointed a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
After his service with SNCC, Lewis went on to hold several positions with groups doing important work and President Jimmy Carter eventually appointed him to lead ACTION, the federal volunteer agency. A couple of years later, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council and he was eventually voted into Congress in 1986, where he served 17 terms. In February 2011, Lewis was honored for his work in the civil rights movement by former president Obama, who presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
When speaking about his activism to CBS News in June, he said:
“Yes, I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious. But I never became bitter or hostile, never gave up. I believe that somehow and some way if it becomes necessary to use our bodies to help redeem the soul of a nation, then we must do it.”
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