President Donald Trump on Saturday ordered flags on U.S. properties to be flown at half-staff to honor the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
“As a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service of Representative John Lewis, of Georgia, I hereby order … that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions through July 18, 2020,” the president said in a statement.
Flags at U.S. embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad are also ordered to be flown at half-staff.
The flags at the White House and the Capitol can be seen flying at half-staff since Saturday morning.
Lewis, an iconic activist of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and a 17-term member of the Congress since 1987, passed away on Friday at the age of 80.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2019.
Lewis’ wife of four decades, Lillian Miles, died in 2012. They had one son, John Miles Lewis.
Trump and the first lady also paid tribute to Lewis and his family in a Twitter post.
“Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family,” he wrote on Saturday.
Lewis was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists, a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that had the greatest impact on the movement. He was best known for leading some 600 protesters in the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
He was knocked to the ground and beaten by police at age of 25 while walking at the head of the march. 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.
Lewis joined King and four other civil rights leaders in organizing the 1963 March on Washington. He spoke to the vast crowd just before King delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech.
Politicians from both sides of the aisles mourned the late congressman publicly.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised Lewis as “giant.”
“This son of sharecroppers in segregated Alabama helped to found and lead the mid-century Civil Rights movement,” he wrote in a statement. “Our great nation’s history has only bent towards justice because great men like John Lewis took it upon themselves to help bend it. Our nation will never forget this American hero.”
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House speaker, said that Lewis was fearless in his pursuit of a more perfect union.
“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,” she said.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.