The body of civil rights activist and Georgia Congressman John Lewis has been transported to the District for a funeral procession before he lied in state at the US Capitol.
Lewis died on July 17 at the age of 80 in Atlanta, Georgia, only six months after he disclosed that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The hearse carrying Lewis made a stop at Black Lives Matter Plaza which bears the famous “Black Lives Matter” mural made up of giant yellow letters, while en route to the Capitol.
Ahead of the event, the mural painted on the order of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser after the racial justice protests in June was given a fresh coat of paint early on Monday morning.
The body was brought to the Rotunda of the Capitol. Members of the late representative’s family and Congressional leadership paid their final respects at his casket.
Police presence has been increased for the ceremony which prompted road closures in a number of locations.
President Donald Trump told reporters that he was not planning to attend the event at the Capitol.
“God truly blessed America with the life and leadership of John Lewis,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spoke at the ceremony. “Through it all John was a person of greatness. He also was a person of great humility, always giving credit to others in the movement. John committed his life to advancing justice and understood that to build it, a better future, we had to acknowledge the past.”
Calling Lewis a “hero,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he lived and worked with urgency because the task was urgent. The Kentucky Republican added that he “stubbornly treated everyone with respect and love” despite the world giving him every cause for bitterness.
“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 peace maker himself now rests in peace,” McConnell said.
Lewis made history by becoming the first black lawmaker to lie in state at the US Capitol Rotunda.
He has served in the House for Georgia’s fifth congressional district as a member of the Democratic Party for 17 terms, since 1987. He was the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) between 1963 and 1966.
Lewis was among the leaders in the 1963 March on Washington and the last one who was still alive until his death. The civil rights icon also led the Selma to Montgomery marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.