At Memorial Service, John Lewis’s Family Urges Americans To Keep His Legacy AliveBreaking News
tags: civil rights, memorials, voting rights, John Lewis
Family members, religious leaders and local officials remembered John Lewis’s humility, kindness and enduring quest for a more just society on Saturday, the first of six days of tributes honoring the life of the late civil rights leader and congressman.
Speakers at a public memorial service in Troy, Ala., Lewis’s birthplace, urged Americans to carry on his legacy. His brother, Freddie Lewis, implored people to do so by voting. His sister, Rosa Mae Tyner, recalled that he “lived with the never-ending desire to help others.” Another brother, Henry “Grant” Lewis, said Lewis “would gravitate toward the least of us.”
His young great-nephew, Jaxon Lewis Brewster, called Lewis his “hero.”
“It’s up to us to keep his legacy alive,” the child said.
Lewis (D-Ga.) died July 17 at the age of 80 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Lewis’s flag-draped casket was carried by men in masks, and attendees were seated six feet apart, a reminder that the country is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has cost the lives of nearly 150,000 Americans, disproportionately from low-income, minority communities.
The memorial Saturday honored the 17-term congressman and son of a sharecropper. In honors afforded to a select few, Lewis will lie in state in two state capitals — Montgomery and Atlanta — and the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, where the nation has paid tribute to past presidents, lawmakers and other distinguished citizens, including civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in 2005.
Songs and recollections marked the event at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church. Martin Luther King III imagined a reunion in heaven involving Lewis, his father and others who fought for civil rights.
Martin Luther King III recalled the 2013 Supreme Court decision invalidating a crucial component of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, ruling that Congress had not taken into account the nation’s racial progress when singling out certain states for federal oversight. King suggested renaming the House-passed bill to restore those protections for Lewis. The legislation, which passed in December, has languished in the GOP-led Senate.