Currents News Staff
A week-long celebration honoring the late congressman and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis began July 25 in his hometown of Troy, Alabama.The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma held important significance in his fight for civil rights and equal justice.
Lewis’ skull was broken by white police officers in March 1965 as African American activists advocating for voting rights crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“This is sacred,” Lewis said. “This is hollow. This is where the people gave some blood. I gave a little blood on this bridge.”
Participants were attempting to march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol of montgomery when 17 people were hospitalized – including Lewis. This would become known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Lewis would always show the same commitment and fight he demonstrated on the bridge that day. CNN reporter Dana Bash asked Lewis why it was so important to come back and to keep coming back every year.
“This is the place that gave us the voting rights act,” Lewis said, “made it possible for hundreds and thousands and millions of people to be able to participate in the Democratic process. You cannot give up. You cannot give in. You will make it. They will lead us.”
This past March, while suffering from Stage 4 cancer, Lewis was determined as ever to travel to Selma twice to mark the march’s 55th anniversary.
“Fifty five years ago, a few of our children attempted to march across this bridge,” he said. “We were beaten, we were tear-gassed. I thought I was going to die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, God almighty helped me here.We must go out and vote like we never, ever voted before.”
Lewis died earlier this month after battling cancer. He was 80. On July 26, more than 55 years after “Bloody Sunday,” his flagged draped casket, pulled by horse and carriage, was carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge one final time.