July 26. 2020: Casket of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge by horse drawn caisson in Selma, Ala. | Photo by AP Photo/John Bazemore, © 2020 The Associated Press


AMERICA PAID HOMAGE to the Honorable John Lewis (1940-2020) this week in the cities where his biography unfolded in ceremonies worthy of a hero and statesman. On Saturday, his homegoing began in his birthplace of Troy, Ala., where he was celebrated at Troy University.

In Selma on Sunday, his casket crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on a horse-drawn caisson along a path of red rose petals. In Montgomery, after passing the Rosa Parks Museum and Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, he lie in state at the Alabama State Capitol.

On Monday, his casket traveled to Washington, D.C., where the motorcade drove by the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Black Lives Matter Plaza before arriving at the U.S. Capitol, where Lewis was the first-ever Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda. From Monday to Tuesday evening, Lewis lie in state at the top of east front steps of the Capitol, giving the public the opportunity pay respects to the art collector and museum supporter from a distance.


July 30, 2020: The casket of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was placed on the same catafalque that held President Abraham Lincoln’s casket. Lewis was the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. | Photo by Kristie Boyd


In Atlanta on Wednesday, the motorcade passed the Rainbow Crosswalk, Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home, and the Hope mural dedicated to Lewis, then proceeded to the Georgia State Capitol where he lie in state. Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and the Masons held services for Lewis, too.

A friend to artists and tireless voting rights advocate, Lewis’s funeral was held yesterday at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and King’s father once presided. More than 50 members of Congress were in attendance, including Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) who remembered Lewis with great regard and emotion.

Three U.S. presidents (Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama) came to honor his life and legacy. Each delivered remarks, including President Obama who gave the eulogy, speaking eloquently and personally about Lewis and making a poignant push for revitalizing and expanding the Voting Rights Act.

Lewis was buried at South-View Cemetery in Atlanta, next to his late wife Lillian Lewis, who died in 2012. The cemetery was founded by former slaves and is home to thousands of African Americans once shut out of white burial sites. Many notable figures are buried there, including Julian Bond and Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents and brother A.D. King. Rev. King was initially buried there too, before he was moved to The King Center.


July 27, 2020: On east front steps of U.S. Capitol, members of U.S. Capitol Police honor guard stand near the flag-draped casket of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), where he lie in state July 27 and July 28. | Photo by AP Photo/Patrick Semansky


In his final days, Lewis wrote a message to the nation, to young people in particular, published in The New York Times. He said he was filled “with hope about the next chapter of the great America story” and urged that his work continue. He declared: “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of the Nation.”

He said Emmett Till was his George Floyd and that the love of his parents and a large extended family “could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle.”

He called on the next generation to act: “Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

And closed with this entreaty: “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” CT


FUNERAL SERVICES The legacy of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was celebrated over six days in Georgia, Alabama, and Washington, D.C., from July 25-30. Here is the schedule


LIVES The passing of John Lewis coincided with a wave of departures among civil rights figures. C.T. Vivian also died on July 17. He was 95. Charles Evers, Medgar’s brother, died July 22 at 97. Mimi Jones, 73, died July 26.


MSNBC enlisted Morgan Freeman to read John Lewis’s final message to the nation as published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral (July 30, 2020). | Video by MSNBC


July 30, 2020: President Obama delivers the eulogy for Congressman John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. | Video by Associated Press via The New York Times


July 30, 2020: Congressman John Lewis was laid to rest at South-View Cemetery in Atlanta, next to his late wife Lillian Lewis. | Video by Associated Press


A look at the 45-year marriage of John Lewis and Lillian Lewis, who died in 2012. | Video by CBS News


Presidential historian John Meacham has written a new book about John Lewis, the civil right icon and veteran member of Congress. Meacham’s “His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope” is forthcoming in August. The three-volume, award-winning graphic novel “March (Triology)” illustrates the experiences of Lewis in the Civil Right Movement and begins and ends with the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge that became known as Bloody Sunday. “Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis” by Jabari Asim was illustrated by E.B. Lewis.


Do you enjoy and value Culture Type? Please consider supporting its ongoing production by making a donation. Culture Type is an independent editorial project that requires countless hours and expense to research, report, write, and produce. To help sustain it, make a one-time donation or sign up for a recurring monthly contribution. It only takes a minute. Many Thanks for Your Support.