The body of late U.S. Rep. John Lewis was carried over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, for a final time, Sunday.
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Lewis and other civil rights figures marched across the bridge 55 years ago on “Bloody Sunday,” a landmark moment that helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Lewis served as Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death.
Franz Hill, who drove four hours to attend the precession, told the Associated Press that he remembers watching news footage of Lewis and other civil rights marchers being beaten by the police.
“I had to come back and see John Lewis cross the bridge for the last time,” Hill explained. “It’s funny to see the state troopers here to honor and respect him rather than beat the crap out of him.”
Lewis returned every year to march across the bridge in honor of the event.
“John was willing to sacrifice life so we can have the freedom to vote,” said Edna Goldsmith, another attendee. “We want to see him off with a bang.”
John Lewis passed on July 17, 2020, at the age of 80. He battled with pancreatic cancer for the final year of his life.