The body of the late Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis will lie in state at the United States Capitol Rotunda on Monday, as Congressional leaders announced that the public would be allowed to pay their respects over two days.
The 80-year-old Lewis died last Friday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
“We are one people, one family, we are one house, we all live in the same house. So I say to you, my brothers and sisters, we cannot give up. We cannot give out. And we cannot give in. We must get out there and push and pull.”
These are the words Lewis lived by throughout his eight decades walking and struggling on this earth. A leader who commanded widespread respect over his more than 30 years serving as a legislator in Washington where he was called the conscience of the US Congress.
While paying tribute to him earlier this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “This big picture of John Lewis was just put up here. “Rest In Power.” Since you can’t see from the TV, but over here in the front row is a big bouquet of white flowers. It’s a place where John usually sat in the front row of a section that many of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus held forth, conspired sometimes, plotted, and made progress for the American people. It’s appropriate that we have those flowers there where John sat for so many years.”
The US Embassy in South Africa shared an undated picture of Lewis meeting former President Nelson Mandela – the congressman dying a day before what would have been Madiba’s 102nd birthday.
“John Lewis spent his life fighting injustice and racism. If it weren’t for the bravery of John and men and women like him, many of us wouldn’t be in this chamber today. And as a black man, I’m not sure I would have had the same rights as my fellow countrymen,” said Congressman Will Hurd of Texas.
Flags were ordered flown at half-staff at federal buildings by President Donald Trump, who expressed sadness at the Congressman’s passing.
Lewis famously questioned Trump’s legitimacy after his election in 2016 by refusing to attend his inauguration.
Former President Barack Obama, who awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, wrote in a tribute that the Atlanta Congressman not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee concurs with Obama’s sentiments.
“John Robert Lewis, Dr. King said, Are you the boy from Troy? He loved to tell that story. He loved to tell that he preached to the chickens, but his voices were heard by kings and queens. John Robert Lewis, a saint walking on Earth,” she says.
Lewis will be laid to rest on Thursday.
In the video below, tributes pour in for Civil Rights Leader John Lewis: