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Home World News Casket of civil rights icon John Lewis crosses Selma bridge

Casket of civil rights icon John Lewis crosses Selma bridge

The late U.S. Rep. John Lewis has crossed Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama for the final time as remembrance ceremonies continue for the civil rights icon.

A processional with Lewis’s casket was carried Sunday across the bridge where he and other civil rights marchers were beaten 55 years ago on Bloody Sunday, a key event in the fight for voting rights for African Americans. Lewis will lie in repose at the Alabama capitol on Sunday afternoon.

A crowd began gathering near the bridge before the crossing as state troopers and police officers stood along the barricaded sidewalks nearby.

A series of events began Saturday in Lewis’s hometown of Troy, Ala., to pay tribute to the late Democratic congressman and his legacy. He will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol next week before his private funeral Thursday at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once led.

A man from the Willie Watkins Funeral Home scatters rose petals representing the blood spilled on Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, before the start of the procession for Lewis on Sunday in Selma, Ala. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

A native of Pike County, Ala., Lewis became involved in the civil rights movement as a young man.

In 1965, he and other marchers were beaten in Selma. The news coverage of the event helped galvanize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Frank and Ellen Hill drove more that four hours from Monroe, La., to watch the procession.

Lewis speaks on the bridge on March 1 to help mark the annual Bloody Sunday march in Selma. Lewis led hundreds of marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965 as they faced attacks by state troopers. (Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images)

Frank Hill, 60, said he remembers, as an African American child, watching news footage of Lewis and other civil rights marchers being beaten by law enforcement officers.

“I had to come back and see John Lewis cross the bridge for the last time,” said Hill. “It’s funny to see the state troopers here to honour and respect him rather than beat the crap out of him,” Hill said.

Lewis, 80, died July 17 several months after he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Lewis, foreground, is hit by a state trooper during a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., in March 1965. He was 25 at the time and the attack left him with a fractured skull. (The Associated Press)

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