Troy service begins final celebration of Lewis’ life
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Pike County native who became a lifelong champion for justice, will lie in rest during a memorial service at Troy University on Saturday.
The event is the first of six days of celebration of his life, that will take Lewis from Troy to Selma to the U.S. Capitol and on to Atlanta, for his final burial.
Lewis’ family will celebrate his life and legacy with a service inside Trojan Arena starting at 10 a.m. In accord with social distance guidelines, there will be a limited amount of seating available for members of the public to attend. Approximately 800 tickets will be given out at the entrance of public parking across from the Trojan Center on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8 a.m.
Following the service, members of the community can pay their respects to Lewis during a public viewing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Visitors to the arena must wear a face-covering and adhere to social distance protocols at all time.
“John Lewis helped change the history of America,” said Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. “His focus on justice for all was a rallying cry for the ages. He was a good man with a loving heart, and he will be missed.”
Lewis was born the son of sharecroppers on February 21, 1940, outside of Troy. He grew up on his family’s farm and attended segregated public schools in Pike County. As a young boy, he was inspired by the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which he heard on radio broadcasts. In those pivotal moments, he made a decision to become a part of the Civil Rights Movement and he became a vanguard of progressive social movements and the human rights struggle in the United States.
Lewis, 80, died last Friday, several months after he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. He served 17 terms in the U.S. House.
After the Troy service, Lewis’s body will travel to Selma, for a service from 6 to 8 p.m. at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church. His body will lie in repose from 8 to 11 p.m. at the church.
At 10 a.m. Sunday morning, Lewis will make a final crossing across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, accompanied by a military honor guard. That bridge is where he and other voting rights demonstrators were beaten 55 years ago on “Bloody Sunday.”
From there, the procession travels to the Alabama Capitol, with a receiving ceremony at 2 p.m. Lewis will lie in state from 3 to 7 p.m., and the viewing is open to the public.
Lewis’ body will be received at the U.S. Capitol at 2 p.m. Monday and will lie in state from 3 to 10 p.m. Monday and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the procession travels to Georgia, with a ceremony at the Georgia Capital at 2 p.m. and viewing from 3 to 7 p.m. and from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. Tuesday. A Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Omega Service takes place from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday.
A final Celebration of Life will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday at Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary before Lewis’ body is laid to rest at the South-View Cemetery in Atlanta.
Lewis’ family has asked members of the public not to travel from across the country to pay their respects. Instead, they suggested people pay virtual tribute online using the hashtags #BelovedCommunity or #HumanDignity or via the www.theJohnLewisLegacy.com
The Troy service will be streamed live on Troy University’s Facebook Page, facebook.com/troyuniversity, and on TROY’s YouTube Channel at youtube.com/troyuni, and will be aired live on the TROY TrojanVision cable channel.