MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The City of Montgomery continued to honor the legacy of Congressman John Lewis Sunday night with a vigil.
Held across from the state Capitol in Bicentennial Park, the vigil highlighted something near and dear to Lewis: the right to vote. In 1965, Lewis and other civil rights footsoldiers were beaten while marching for African American voting rights.
Several people, including the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Bernice King, spoke at the vigil.
“[Congressman Lewis] maintained a passionate stance for the good in the face of the resurgence of tangible racism in the corridors of the nation’s most hallowed government buildings and across the nation,” King said. “He became a bridge to the beloved community.”
King called on Congress to pass a bill to expand and restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to honor the lives and legacies of both Lewis and the late Rev. C.T. Vivian. Vivian, another civil rights icon, died on July 17.
Attorney Fred Gray, a civil rights activist, shared his memories of Lewis.
“He wrote Dr. King a letter, and in that letter he told him he wanted to attend Troy,” Gray said. “Dr. King in turn sent him a round trip Greyhound bus ticket from Troy to Montgomery. Then he got on the phone and he called Fred Gray.”
Gray met with Lewis and introduced him to Martin Luther King Jr., and soon after Lewis joined the civil rights movement. Gray often represented Lewis and other footsoldiers.
Lewis laid in state inside the Alabama Capitol for several hours, and thousands braved the weather to pay their respects. He was escorted from the Capitol after 7 p.m.
Montgomery was the final stop for Lewis in Alabama. Monday, he will be taken to Washington D.C., where he will lie in state inside the U.S. Capitol. His funeral will be Thursday.