Alabama says goodbye to John Lewis in weekend celebrations

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Rep. John Lewis’s weekend memorial events were livestreamed within this story. The civil rights icon’s celebration of life will continue for the next four days.


SELMA, Ala. (WIAT) — The family of the late congressman John Lewis will host “Celebration of Life” events across the country this weekend, including in Alabama, his home state.

Several events celebrating Lewis’s life will be held Saturday in Troy and Selma:

Lewis’s celebration of life continues Sunday with multiple events in Montgomery and Selma:

  • The Final Crossing – Edmund Pettus Bridge at 10 a.m. CT
  • Receiving Ceremony – Front Entrance Hall, Alabama State Capitol at 2 p.m. CT
  • Congressman Lewis Lies in State – Alabama State Capitol from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. CT
  • City of Montgomery holds public vigil honoring Congressman John Lewis at 7 p.m. CT

Saturday’s and Sunday’s events are part of a six-day celebration of the civil rights icon. Rep. Lewis (D-Ga.) died last Friday at age 80 of pancreatic cancer—a battle he made public in late December. He was the last surviving member of the “Big Six” civil rights activists, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who organized the 1963 March on Washington.

Saturday, Lewis’s body traveled back to his hometown of Troy, where he grew up on a farm during racial segregation in the South. Hopeful of attending the local, all-white Troy College, now Troy University, Lewis said he never received a response and instead attended the predominately Black American Baptist College in Nashville. Wanting to challenge school segregation, he then decided to write to Martin Luther King, Jr., about his struggle. This correspondence sparked Lewis’s involvement in the civil rights movement and eventual participation in the 1961 Freedom Rides.

During Lewis’s memorial service in Selma Saturday, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) and Democratic U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) spoke highly of the late congressman and reminisced about the memories each of them share with him.

Lewis’s body returned to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Sunday morning for his “final crossing.” This symbolic journey came 55 years after the civil rights activist, then 25, was badly beaten on the bridge by Alabama state troopers while leading a 600-strong march for voting rights.

He suffered a fractured skull in an attack that erupted during the peaceful demonstration. The televised incident on March 7, 1965, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” served as a catalyst for a national outcry to end racial discrimination.

  • Selma_89719
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Hosea Williams, John Lewis_83621
  • Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, Marian Robinson, Amelia Boynton, Laura Bush, John Lewis

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 six months later.

Other events will be hosted in Atlanta and Washington D.C. The events will also be livestreamed on multiple platforms. For more information, click here.


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