John Lewis carried across Edmund Pettus Bridge for last time

The body of the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Sunday was escorted across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama for the last time in a tribute to the civil rights icon’s legacy.

A military honor guard accompanied Lewis as his casket was escorted from the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma, Ala. He was then taken by a horse-drawn caisson across the bridge, which was decorated with rose petals and lined with crowds gathered to send off the longtime congressman. 

The procession was one of many tributes taking place this week in remembrance of Lewis, who played an active role in the civil rights movement in the 1960s before representing an Atlanta-area district in Congress for three decades. 

Alabama state troopers met Lewis's casket on the opposite end of the bridge before escorting him to Montgomery, Ala., where he will lie at the state Capitol on Sunday afternoon.

Lewis, who died on July 17 at the age of 80, was one of many peaceful protesters who were severely beaten in 1965 as they marched from Selma to Montgomery as part of a broad effort to establish greater voting rights in the South. Lewis, 25 at the time, had his skull fractured by a state trooper after protesters were stopped at one end of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Scenes of from that day, known as “Bloody Sunday,” shocked the nation and helped lead to the landmark passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

"It’s poetic justice that this time, Alabama state troopers will see John to his safety," Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) said at a ceremony held in Selma ahead of the procession. 

Lewis returned to the Edmund Pettus Bridge at various points in the half-century after he was confronted by hundreds of Alabama state troopers there. He marked the 55th anniversary of the civil rights protest earlier this year by making a surprise appearance at a commemorative march across the bridge.

An effort to rename the bridge after Lewis has gained increasing support following the civil rights champion’s death. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking Black person in Congress, last week renewed his push for the bridge's renaming, noting that it’s currently named for a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Edmund Pettus was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Take his name off that bridge and replace it with a good man, John Lewis, the personification of the goodness of America, rather than to honor someone who disrespected individual freedoms,” Clyburn said.

Lewis regularly invoked the injuries he suffered while protesting, often referring to it as "good trouble" that seeks justice. Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, he said, "I have been beaten, my skull fractured, and arrested more than 40 times so that each and every person has the right to register and vote."

"Friends of my gave their lives," he added. "Do your part. Get out there and vote like you’ve never voted before.” 


Source: The Hill,