The body of John Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge one last time on Sunday in what organizers described as “The Final Crossing,” part of a multiday celebration of the life of the civil rights icon.
In March 1965, a 25-year-old Lewis and hundreds of other civil rights advocates planned to march from Selma to Montgomery to draw attention to the need for voting rights in the state, which was infamous for denying African Americans the right to vote. When Lewis and the other marchers crossed the bridge they were met by State troopers who viciously attacked the demonstrators which included women and children. Lewis suffered a fractured skull.
Lewis didn’t die that day. Images from “Bloody Sunday,” as it came to be known, were broadcast across the nation. The ensuing coverage helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. And it catapulted Lewis onto the national stage and to a more than 30-year career in Congress as a representative from Georgia.
Yesterday, Lewis was remembered at a memorial service in his hometown of Troy, Ala. At night he was honored at a service in Selma, where his body lay in repose as mourners paid their respects. After Sunday’s passage across the bridge, Lewis will be received at the Alabama State Capitol.
On Monday, Lewis’s body will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. After an invitation-only arrival ceremony Monday afternoon, members of the public will be able to pay their respects in a masked and socially distant line on the Capitol’s East Plaza.