On July 17, 2020 US Representative John Lewis (D-GA), known as “the conscience of the Congress”, passed away at the age of 80. A former associate of Martin Luther King Jr, Lewis was an influential civil rights leader and had served his district as representative for more than thirty years. Lewis, one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington and the last surviving speaker at that rally, was a leader of the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965, which protested suppression of black voting rights, when he was viciously beaten by Alabama State Troopers at the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Members of this same organization now saluted his remains when Lewis’ casket was conveyed across that bridge one final time, as part of a protracted funeral process.
The five-day official commemoration of Lewis’ death focused on Alabama, where he was born; Georgia, where he represented the state’s 5th district; and Washington DC, where he had served in the House, highlighted in a funeral and lying-in-state at the Capitol Rotunda, first African American to be given that honor.