Washington DC, Jul 27 (efe-epa).- Almost 57 years after the iconic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a memorial was held for civil rights leader John Lewis on Monday in the United States Capitol.
The legacy of the man who fought for equality alongside Martin Luther King Jr. was highlighted by politicians and leaders who, despite the COVID-19 epidemic, came to say their farewells.
The rotunda, under the dome of the US Capitol, hosted the lawmaker’s coffin, around which chairs were spaced out and occupied by family, friends and legislators, headed by the speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
US President Donald Trump did not attend, and had told reporters that he would not go to the ceremony.
“John Lewis became a titan of the Civil Rights Movement and then the conscience of the Congress,” Pelosi said in her speech, adding that “he was revered and beloved” in the legislative.
The Democratic leader stressed that Lewis “firmly focused on the future, on how to inspire the next generation to join the fight for justice .”
Meanwhile, McConnell considered him a “peace maker.”
“Even though the world around him gave him every cause for bitterness, he stubbornly treated everyone with respect and love,” said the Republican.
Hours after the ceremony, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for the November presidential elections, and his wife, Jill Biden, arrived at the rotunda.
Biden, who was the vice president of Barack Obama, the first Black leader in US history (2009-2017), stood for a few minutes with his right hand placed on his heart in front of the coffin wrapped in the American flag.
After briefly chatting with Pelosi, Biden and his wife put their hands on the coffin before leaving.
Lewis passed away on July 17 at the age of 80 after he was diagnosed in December with pancreatic cancer. His condition did not prevent him from appearing a few weeks ago on the streets of Washington DC as they boiled over with protests against police brutality that ended the life of George Floyd.
The Democratic legislator was seen with Mayor Muriel Bowser, who ordered “Black Lives Matter” to be painted on 16th street, running up to the White House.
This is also where the convoy carrying Lewis’ coffin crossed. It made its way past various iconic points of the American capital, including the memorials to Martin Luther King Jr. and former president Abraham Lincoln, as well as the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The congressman’s last tour of Washington began at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, where his coffin arrived from Alabama, the scene of heartfelt tributes over the weekend.
On Sunday, a horse-drawn carriage with his coffin crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma. The bridge was the scene of the first of the Selma to Montgomery marches on March 7, 1965, which was impeded by police and soldiers who dispersed some 600 civil rights protesters with blows and tear gas.
Relatives of the activist accompanied the convoy during the section over the bridge, while dozens of people gathered along the route to say goodbye with applause and cheers.
The honors began Saturday in Troy, Lewis’ hometown, continued in Selma and later in Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, where Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., said in a speech that the life of the congressman “became a beacon of light,” according to local media. EFE-EPA