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Public pays final respects to Georgia congressman

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 7:49 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A day full of events celebrating the life of Georgia congressman and civil rights legend John Lewis ends in a public viewing of his casket.

In the middle of a pandemic and brutal heat, a wave of mourners would not be denied from paying tribute to a civil rights hero. The public viewing of Lewis’ casket took place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for four hours Monday evening.

After a special service in the Capitol rotunda, the public had its chance to celebrate a man who dedicated his life to civil rights and justice. The congressman inspired other African American leaders to rise.

“John gave us the roadmap. We just have to dare to pick up the baton and continue the march,” said Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.).

Sewell called Lewis a father figure. Sewell traveled with Lewis’ family from Alabama to Washington after participating in numerous events celebrating Lewis over the weekend. She says while the coronavirus and heat make honoring the congressman a bit challenging, she is glad those outside the family have the chance to pay tribute to the man she looked up to in life.

“It goes to show how well-loved John was. John sowed lots of seeds into lots of people,” Sewell said.

Lewis’ colleague from Georgia, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), says the pomp and circumstance in the wake of his passing is no more than he deserves.

“This was a man who essentially was history itself,” said Carter.

Carter remembers his time with Lewis on and off Capitol Hill fondly. He said today’s events will provide an appropriate lasting memory in the halls he walked for decades.

“What a great American. What a great person for all of us in Congress to try to emulate. And for all of us in America,” said Carter.

The public viewing continues Tuesday at 8 a.m. and lasts all day until 10 p.m. The casket departure ceremony will take place Wednesday morning.

The funeral for Lewis will be on Thursday at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

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