A six-day series of events memorializing the life of the late civil rights icon and member of the U.S. House of Representatives John Lewis begins Saturday in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, and culminates next week with his funeral in the state of Georgia.
A public service celebrating Lewis will take place Saturday morning at Troy University, where Lewis will lie in repose for visitors to pay their respects. Later in the day, a private ceremony will honor him at a chapel in Selma, Alabama, ahead of another public viewing.
On Sunday, Lewis’ body will cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where he and other voting rights demonstrators were beaten in 1965 on a day known as “Bloody Sunday.”
His body will be carried to Alabama’s capital, Montgomery, where Mayor Steven Reed is encouraging people to line the sidewalks on the final leg of that journey. Officials are asking the public to wear face masks and socially distance.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff on Saturday and Sunday in honor of Lewis.
During the nearly weeklong memorial events, Lewis' body will lie in state at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta and the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced earlier this week that visitors could pay their respects to Lewis in the U.S. Capitol on Monday and Tuesday.
Due to the coronavirus, the public viewing will take place outside the Capitol building instead of inside in the traditional Capitol Rotunda. The lawmakers said social distancing will be “strictly enforced” and face masks will be required.
The Georgia Democrat will be the second Black lawmaker to lie in state at the Capitol, following Congressman Elijah Cummings, who died last year.
Lewis’ family said there will also be a procession through Washington next week and said members of the public will be able to pay their respects in a “socially distant manner.”
Lewis’ funeral will be held Thursday at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. was once the pastor. Following the service, which will be private, Lewis will be interred at South View Cemetery in Atlanta.
Lewis died last Friday at age 80, after a yearlong battle with advanced pancreatic cancer.
He rose to fame as a leader of the modern-day American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s. At 23, he worked closely with King and was the last surviving speaker from the August 1963 March on Washington where King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
The civil rights movement led Lewis into a career in politics. He was elected to the Atlanta City Council in 1981 and to Congress in 1986, calling the latter victory “the honor of a lifetime.” He served 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s fifth district.