The body of late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will lie in state for public viewing at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced late Thursday.
Lewis, a civil rights icon, died at the age of 80 on July 17, following a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer in December 2019.
The public will be able to pay respects to the late congressman starting Monday night starting 6 p.m. ET, and from 8 a.m. ET until 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Due to precautions related to the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, Lewis’s body will be laid at the top of the east front steps of the Capitol, rather than in the Rotunda. The public will be arranged to move past on the East Plaza. Precautionary measures such as social distancing and the use of masks will be enforced.
People who have “lain in state”—a form of ceremonial tribute—traditionally have been distinguished U.S. citizens including American statesmen and military leaders, among whom were 12 U.S. presidents.
Lewis’ family has asked the public not to travel from across the country to Washington to pay their respects. Instead, the family suggests that people use hashtags #BelovedCommunity or #HumanDignity to pay tribute online.
The longtime congressman from Atlanta, Georgia, is best known for the prominent role he had in the 1960s civil rights movement and actions to end legalized racial segregation in the United States. He was the youngest and last survivor of the “Big Six” civil rights activists, a group led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that comprise leaders of six prominent civil rights organizations at the height of the movement.
Lewis helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and became its chairman in 1963 at the age of 23. He was then best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in March 1965 at the age of 25. While walking at the head of the match, Lewis was knocked to the ground and beaten by police. His skull was fractured, and nationally televised images of the brutality forced the country’s attention on racial oppression in the South.
Within days, King led more marches in the state, and President Lyndon Johnson soon was pressing Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. The bill became law later that year, removing barriers that had barred blacks from voting.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.