Congressman John Lewis crosses Edmund Pettus Bridge for the last time

Updated: Jul. 26, 2020 at 11:57 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The late Congressman John Lewis made his final crossing on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Sunday morning.

As part of a series of events that began Saturday to honor the Civil Rights icon, Lewis’ casket was taken in a horse-drawn carriage across the bridge he crossed many times. People gathered along the route to watch the procession, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were not allowed on the bridge.

Sunday morning’s ceremony began with remarks from Congresswoman Terri Sewell. She spoke about “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, when Lewis marched across the bridge for African American voting rights and was beaten by Alabama State Troopers. His skull was fractured.

The attack on “Bloody Sunday” led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

“John was determined to fight for equality and justice, putting his own life on the line in the service of others and a brighter future for everyone,” Sewell said. “John crossed bridges so many times, insisting that our nation lived up to the ideals upon which it was founded. As he always said, he gave a little blood on that bridge.”

Rose petals covered the bridge as the carriage took Lewis from historic Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church to make the crossing. The petals represent the blood shed more than 55 years ago. State troopers saluted him at the foot of the bridge.

Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church played an important role in the civil rights movement, serving as the site of mass meetings ahead of major events. A celebration of Lewis’ life was held at the church Saturday, during which fellow footsoldiers, local and state leaders, and Martin Luther King III reminded people of the sacrifices Lewis made so the country could be where it is today.

After the crossing, Lewis’ casket was moved to a hearse to be taken to Montgomery, where he will lie in repose inside the Alabama Capitol Sunday afternoon. State troopers are accompanying him to the capital city.

Lewis will lie in the Capitol until 7 p.m. He will then be honored at a vigil in Bicentennial Park at 7 p.m. Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., will speak, along with other civil rights leaders.

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