Lewis, 80, died on July 17 after a six-month battle with most cancers.
His casket, accompanied by a navy honor guard, arrived draped in an American flag at Troy College forward of “A Service Celebrating ‘The Boy from Troy'” on Saturday.
Troy Mayor Jason Reeves applauded Lewis’ energy at “confronting Alabama state troopers,” throughout his time as an activist in the course of the Civil Rights motion.
“And now Alabama state troopers will lead his physique round this state as we rejoice his life,” Reeves mentioned.
The occasion, with speeches from 5 of his 10 siblings– his brothers, Henry “Grant,” Samuel and Freddie Lewis and sisters, Rosa Mae and Ethel Mae Tyner– and a rendition of “Hero,” from Sheila Jackson, paid homage to Lewis’ historical past within the metropolis that set off his activism alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1958.
It was over 60 years in the past that Dr. King met with the then 18-year-old “boy from Troy” who had hopes of attending an all-white college.
The college — Troy College — is the campus to host the primary of a number of proceedings for Lewis starting Saturday.
“He labored a lifetime to assist others and make the world a greater place wherein to reside,” Grant Lewis mentioned in his tribute. He shared a reminiscence of when Lewis was sworn into Congress, saying that in the course of the poignant second, Lewis regarded up at Grant and gave him a thumbs-up in the course of the ceremony.
Afterward, Grant requested him, “What have been you considering?”
“I used to be considering this can be a great distance from the cotton fields of Alabama,” Lewis responded.
His younger nephew infused the somber ceremony with laughter after delivering poignant phrases: “it is as much as maintain his legacy alive” earlier than leaping off the stage.
Lewis grew up in Pike County, Ala., and was an aspiring minister.
The son of sharecroppers, he labored alongside his siblings– who knew him as Robert– on his household’s land, tending the fields and animals. The younger Lewis would preach to the chickens to follow his craft.
“He got here from humble beginnings, at all times humble and respectful,” his sister Ethel Mae mentioned.
In 2011, the common-or-garden congressman was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama for his combat towards racial discrimination.
As a result of coronavirus pandemic, which has worsened in Lewis’ residence state of Alabama, the household has requested that everybody put on a face masks to stop mourners and onlookers from spreading the virus.
Seats on the college service have been spaced six ft aside to abide by social distancing guidelines.
“Get in good hassle, needed hassle”
Lewis’s demise comes amidst a nationwide reckoning between legislation enforcement and their communities, as folks all around the nation protest towards racial injustice going through Black and Hispanic folks.
As an activist, Lewis himself was arrested and jailed dozens of occasions and attacked in periods of civil unrest.
At an occasion in March to commemorate the anniversary of the bloody upheaval between police and protesters in 1965 on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the place Lewis and different demonstrators have been overwhelmed with golf equipment by state troopers, and his cranium was fractured, Lewis famously mentioned: “Get in good hassle, needed hassle, and redeem the soul of America.”
The bridge shall be one other monumental cease Sunday on Lewis’ journey earlier than his physique lies in repose on the Alabama Capitol.
He shall be flown to Washington, D.C. on Monday and his casket will make a number of stops all through the town, together with on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial close to the Nationwide Mall. He’ll then lie in state on the U.S. Capitol, with a public viewing.
The dignity to put within the nation’s Capitol Rotunda has been given to greater than 30 distinguished figures in American historical past, together with and most lately the late Sen. John McCain and late Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Lewis will then be flown to Atlanta, the place he’ll lie in state on the Georgia Capitol Wednesday, earlier than his remaining internment on Thursday.
The Related Press contributed to this report.