Thousands come to State Capitol to honor civil rights hero John Lewis
MONTGOMERY — An estimated 3,000 individuals made a trip to the State Capitol building on Sunday to pay their respects to Alabama native, civil rights icon and U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA).
Lewis, who was born and spent the early years of his life in Troy, was honored over the weekend by the people of the Yellowhammer State.
Tributes to his work for a better America poured in from Alabama politicians on both sides of the aisle, and the City of Montgomery held a vigil for him in the evening.
In one of the more historically meaningful moments of the weekend, Lewis was saluted by Alabama State Troopers as he crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where 55 years earlier in that exact location he was brutally beaten by men of that same agency as he tried to lead a peaceful demonstration.
Lewis arrived at the capitol on Sunday after being ferried from Selma. The procession of vehicles stretched for blocks.
The procession for civil rights icon and U.S. Representative John Lewis here in Montgomery. pic.twitter.com/S5i8Etl84a
— Henry Thornton (@HenryThornton95) July 26, 2020
He was welcomed into the Capitol building by Governor Kay Ivey, along with U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) who both placed arrangements of roses alongside his casket.
“For John to be welcomed into Montgomery to lie in state after being violently barred entry so many years ago is poetic justice. To see him honored in this way gives me hope for our state and our country,” wrote Sewell on Sunday.
Republicans joined Democrats on Sunday in praising the efforts by Lewis to make America a better nation.
“I was humbled today as I paid my respects to the Honorable Congressman John Lewis. I am grateful to the Lewis Family for providing Alabama citizens the opportunity to participate in the memorial celebration of Congressman Lewis’s life,” commented Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia).
The governor’s office estimated that around 3,000 individuals waited in line to pay their respects to Lewis during the hours he was available to the public.
After the public visitation, several hundred people braved intermittent rain showers to attend a vigil for Lewis just outside the capitol building in Alabama’s bicentennial park.
At a community vigil Sunday evening Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, the city’s first black mayor, said that Lewis “was one of the greatest sons not only of Alabama, but of this nation.”