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John Lewis honored at services in Troy and Selma, Alabama

Memorial service held for John Lewis
Memorial service held for John Lewis 02:31

John Lewis, the civil rights icon and longtime congressman who died last week, was honored with a service at Troy University in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, on Saturday. A separate service was held Saturday night at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma, Alabama. 

Lewis' brothers Henry "Grant" Lewis, Samuel Lewis, and Freddie Lewis and sisters Rosa Mae Tyner and Ethel Mae Tyner were among those who spoke at his service.

"This is not a goodbye. It's just a different kind of hello," his sister Ethel said in a speech. Lewis' young nephew, Jackson Lewis Brewster, also spoke briefly.

"Congressman John Lewis was my uncle and my hero. It's up to us to keep his legacy alive," Jackson said.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called Lewis the "boy from Troy" when the two first met in 1958, according to the Associated Press, and their meeting kicked off Lewis' lifetime of activism. In 1961, Lewis was just 21 years old when he joined the Freedom Riders who rode public transportation to Alabama in an effort to integrate bus travel.

Lewis was beaten and arrested multiple times due to his activism. He was elected as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington. He served Georgia's Fifth Congressional District in Congress from 1987 until his death.

On Sunday, Lewis' casket will be carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he marched with other civil rights protesters and was brutally beaten by state troopers in 1965. His body will then lie in repose at the Alabama Capitol, before his casket travels to Washington, D.C., to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. His funeral will be held Thursday at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves noted that Lewis' body would be carried by Alabama state troopers, over 50 years after he was beaten by state troopers in Selma.

"He became a figure known around the world for action, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, confronting Alabama state troopers. And now Alabama state troopers will lead his body around this state as we celebrate his life," Reeves said.

In December 2019, Lewis announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  Lewis said in December that he has been "in some kind of fight – for freedom, equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now."

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