The final goodbye to one of the great civil rights icons in American history is underway, as people honor the life of the late Congressman John Lewis in Alabama … and TMZ is streaming live.
The Celebration of Life ceremony, which kicks off a 6-day, 5 city tribute, began in Troy, Alabama, the city where Lewis was born in 1940 to parents who worked on a cotton farm. The Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church — where the first tribute was held — is especially significant because it was the place where the march to Montgomery began.
Lewis was right there with Martin Luther King, Jr., marching, protesting and getting brutalized by cops … sometimes so horribly he could have died. But a cracked skull would not stop Lewis, who sometimes smiled when his mugshot was taken after being arrested … saying he smiled because he knew he was on the right side of history.
A second tribute will be held in Selma Saturday — which has been dubbed ‘Selma Salutes Congressman John Lewis.’ It’s going down at 4 PM PT, and will be held at the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church. The building was a central hub during the Civil Right era, and served as the headquarters for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s push for voter access in 1965. After the ceremony, his body will lie in repose for some hours for the public.
Other ceremonies happening this weekend and later this week include some Montgomery, Washington, D.C., Atlanta.
Lewis died earlier this month from pancreatic cancer. He fought the disease for 7 months but never slowed down. The man served Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for 17 terms. He was often referred to as the “conscience of the Congress.”