Washington — Congressional leaders, political luminaries and members of the public are paying their respects to the late civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis in Washington, D.C., this week. He will be lying in state in the U.S. Capitol on Monday and Tuesday.
A plane carrying Lewis’ casket arrived at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington just after 11 a.m. Monday following a weekend of services in Alabama, where he was born, honoring his legacy and lifelong fight for civil rights. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of Lewis’ family met the plane.
After Lewis’ casket was loaded into a hearse, the funeral procession drove to the U.S. Capitol, proceeding past landmarks including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House and the Supreme Court. Mourners lined the streets along the route, and as the hearse paused in Black Lives Matter Plaza, “Amazing Grace” could be heard playing.
Those who paid their respects to Lewis at the Capitol included presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden.
President Trump said Monday he will not visit the Capitol to pay his respects. Vice President Mike Pence did make a trip to the Capitol Rotunda to pay his respects.
On Sunday, the longtime Georgia congressman made his final trip across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the same bridge he crossed more than 50 years ago in the march to Montgomery. The day of the march, March 7, 1965, would become known as “Bloody Sunday.”
After his casket was brought across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a horse-drawn caisson, Lewis lay in repose in the Alabama Capitol on Sunday afternoon.
Lewis’ body arrived at the U.S. Capitol on Monday afternoon, and his casket was carried into the rotunda by a military honor guard for an invitation-only ceremony attended by members of both chambers of Congress.
In remarks at the ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recalled Lewis speaking at the March on Washington in 1963 and the violence he endured in the fight for civil rights.
“John Lewis lived and worked with urgency because the task was urgent,” McConnell said. “But even though the world around him gave him every cause for bitterness, he stubbornly treated everyone with respect and love, all so that as his friend Dr. King once put it, we could build a community at peace with itself. Today, we pray and trust that this peacemaker himself now rests in peace.”
Pelosi remembered Lewis as the “conscience of Congress” and said “God truly blessed America with the life and leadership of John Lewis.”
“Under the dome of the U.S. Capitol, we have bid farewell to some of the greatest Americans in our history,” Pelosi said. “It is fitting that John Lewis joins this pantheon of patriots resting upon the same catafalque as President Abraham Lincoln.”
While members of the public are urged to pay their respects virtually due to the ongoingpandemic, a public viewing is occurring outdoors, as Lewis will be lying in state at the top of the East Front Steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Lewisat the age of 80. He was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in December. Lewis’s death sent shock waves across the country and has from congressional Democrats for the Republican-controlled Senate to take action on legislation that bolsters voting rights and rolls back the impacts of a 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted a key provision of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Members of the public have the opportunity to pay their respects to Lewis on Monday evening and Tuesday.