John Lewis Crosses Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma a Final Time

A horse drawn carriage carrying the body of civil rights icon, former US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge as it prepares to pass members of his family on July 26, 2020 in Selma, Alabama. On the second of six days of ceremonies, Lewis’s funeral procession continues to follow the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail on its way to the State Capitol where he will lie in state. On March 7, 1965 Lewis and other civil rights leaders were attacked by Alabama State Police while marching
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Civil rights icon John Lewis' body is being carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday.

Civil rights icon John Lewis' body is being carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday. It's the bridge that he crossed in the march to Montgomery on March 7, 1965, a day that would become known as "Bloody Sunday."

"John was determined to fight for equality and justice, putting his own life on the line in the service of others and a brighter future for everyone," said Congresswoman Terri Sewell on Sunday. "John crossed bridges so many times -- insisting that our nation live up to the ideals upon which it was founded. As he always said, he gave a little blood on that bridge."

Lewis' casket was brought across the bridge in a horse-drawn caisson, following the route he took on "Bloody Sunday." People in the crowd shouted "thank you, John Lewis!" and "good trouble!"

State troopers saluted his casket as a military honor guard lifted his casket from the horse-drawn carriage to an automobile hearse, The Associated Press reported.

Lewis will lie in repose in the Alabama Capitol on Sunday afternoon. His body will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol next week before a private funeral at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once presided.

A series of events honoring Lewis began Saturday in his hometown of Troy, Alabama, where he was honored by friends and family at Troy University, followed by a service at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma.

Since Lewis' death, there has been a movement to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge after him.

On March 7, 1965, Lewis was one of the leaders of the march across the bridge. Retracing his steps more than 30 years later with CBS News' Rita Braver in 1998, Lewis described what he saw that day: "At this point I could see lines and lines of state troopers."

The marchers were beaten with canes, clubs and whips, and sprayed with tear gas. Lewis, who was in the front, was the first person to be hit. 

"I was hit in the head by a state trooper with a nightstick," Lewis said. "I really believe to this day that I saw death."

Braver asked Lewis, "When you look back and see those pictures of young John Lewis and his friends, do you wonder how you got the courage to do what you did then?"

"We had to do it. We had to do it," he replied. "I think there's some force, and sometimes I call it the spirit of history, that maybe, just maybe, tracked us down and said, 'This is your time, and you must do it.  If you don't, who will?'"

In 2015, he crossed the bridge again to commemorate the 50th anniversary, this time with President Obama at his side. Mr. Obama described the march as "not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America." 

Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80 following a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in December. He was the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington in 1963.

(This story was originally published by CBS News on July 26 at 8:28 a.m. ET)