In a processional, Congressman John Lewis’s body will be carried over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the site of Bloody Sunday, one final time.

The body of the late Congressman John Lewis, the son of a sharecropper raised in the Alabama woods, will cross the infamous bridge in Selma on Sunday morning where Lewis became a wounded but more determined warrior in the fight for racial equity decades ago. Lewis, considered the Conscience of Congress, died earlier this month at the age of 80, from pancreatic cancer. The procession over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, accompanied by a military honor guard, is one of several events marking the congressmans death, including two days lying in state in the U.S. Capitol, adding him to the list of just 32 American figures to ever do so.
In every way that America seems capable today, Lewis is a most honored man. Political allies and absolute foes have described him in laudatory terms (even while, in some cases, attaching the wrong mans photo). Discussions have turned to renaming the bridge for Lewis instead of its current namesake, an Alabama senator and Ku Klux Klan leader. The Selma expanse is where Lewis once believed he would be killed at 25, as he led protesters who marched for the right to vote only to be met by police officers who brutally attacked the protesters. But, unlike like the days and weeks after the bloody attack in March 1965, or the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, there has been no bipartisan talk of honoring Lewis, a 16-term Congressman, by passing actual laws.
Tear gas fumes fill the air as state troopers, ordered by Gov. George Wallace, break up a demonstration march in Selma, Ala., on what is known as Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965.AP file
John Lewis, third from left, walks with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as they begin the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march from Brown’s Chapel Church in Selma, Ala., on March 21, 1965.William Lovelace / Hulton Archive via Getty Images
He was one of a shrinking crew of people who were essential to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and after, said Graham Dodds, an American-born political scientist who teaches about American politics at Concordia University in Montreal.
If you wanted to be cynical, you would say, had it not been for the death of George Floyd, Dodds continued, Congressman Lewiss death would not have been so publicly marked. But, I also think that the tradition of saying nice things about the dead has something to do with whats happening here. What I dont see, what may also be telling, is his death changing any minds. I dont think the folks who opposed what he stood for are about to embrace voting rights for all now.
Lewiss sense that activism and action was essential began as a teenager who, from his home near Troy, Ala., watched the young preacher from Georgia leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott just 50 miles away. Soon, Lewis was patterning his life after King, deciding he would be a preacher.
Lewis first sermon, delivered days after his 16th birthday, landed Lewis in the Negro Section, of the local newspaper. His subject: the biblical figure Hannahs promise to God that if she were blessed with one child despite her advanced age, she would raise him to be a man of moral courage.