Memorials for Rep. John Lewis will continue over the next six days in five cities including Montgomery, Alabama, and Washington D.C.

By Georgia Slater
July 25, 2020 03:15 PM
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A series of memorials in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis began in Troy, Alabama, on Saturday, bringing together his family, friends and colleagues to remember the 80-year-old civil rights icon.

The memorial service, entitled "The Boy From Troy," comes nearly a week after the longtime Georgia congressman's passing. He was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in December 2019.

Lewis' body was brought from an Atlanta funeral home to Troy University in his hometown, where he was born to sharecroppers in 1940, NBC News reported.

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said that Lewis had "come home" and celebrated the late politician for being the "conscience of Congress" and having "otherworldly courage."

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Georgia Rep. John Lewis in 2019
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Four of Lewis' siblings spoke at the memorial as well as Lewis' 7-year-old great-nephew Jackson Lewis, who remembered him as a "hero."

Ethel Tyner, one of Lewis' sisters, recalled her brother's dedication to speaking out, sharing stories of how he began preaching at a young age.

Another sister, Rosa Tyner, recalled Lewis' "never-ending desire to help others."

"He often told us, ‘If you see something wrong, do something.’ His actions showed us just that. In a time when going to jail was perceived as trouble, he reminded us that it was good trouble. Necessary trouble," she said.

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Gospel singer Dottie Peoples also performed at the socially-distanced service.

While arriving at the ceremony, guests were also able to sign a giant condolences card outside of the arena as well as walk by Lewis' open casket to pay their respects.

Memorials for Lewis will continue over the next six days in five different cities including Montgomery, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. before Lewis is interred at the South View Cemetery in Atlanta on Thursday.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Lewis dedicated his life to protecting human rights and was at the forefront of the civil rights movement. In 1963, he was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

He was also a leader at the march in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, which led to the eventual passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

In 1986, Lewis was elected to Congress, where he continued to serve as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District.

During his time in office, Lewis advocated for healthcare reform, improvements in education and the fight against poverty. He also oversaw multiple renewals of the Voting Rights Act.