Watch live: John Lewis crosses Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma a final time


Civil rights icon John Lewis‘ body is being carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday. It’s the bridge that he crossed in the march to Montgomery on March 7, 1965, a day that would become known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Lewis will lie in repose in the Alabama Capitol on Sunday afternoon. His body will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol next week before a private funeral at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once presided. 

A series of events honoring Lewis began Saturday in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, where he was honored by friends and family at Troy University, followed by a service at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma.

Since Lewis’ death, there has been a movement to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after him. 

John Lewis Remembered
A hearse carrying the casket of the late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., drives over the Edmund Pettus Bridge Saturday, July 25, 2020, in route to the Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama.

Brynn Anderson / AP

On March 7, 1965, Lewis was one of the leaders of the march across the bridge. Retracing his steps more than 30 years later with CBS News’ Rita Braver in 1998, Lewis described what he saw that day: “At this point I could see lines and lines of state troopers.”

The marchers were beaten with canes, clubs and whips, and sprayed with tear gas. Lewis, who was in the front, was the first person to be hit. 

“I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick,” Lewis said. “I really believe to this day that I saw death.”

Braver asked Lewis, “When you look back and see those pictures of young John Lewis and his friends, do you wonder how you got the courage to do what you did then?”

“We had to do it. We had to do it,” he replied. “I think there’s some force, and sometimes I call it the spirit of history, that maybe, just maybe, tracked us down and said, ‘This is your time, and you must do it.  If you don’t, who will?'”

In 2015, he crossed the bridge again to commemorate the 50th anniversary, this time with President Obama at his side. Mr. Obama described the march as “not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America.”

Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80 following a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in December. He was the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington in 1963.


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