'The Boy from Troy': Funeral services begin for the late Rep. John Lewis

Lewis, 80, died last Friday, after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

July 25, 2020, 1:35 PM

The first of six days of celebration to honor the life of "The Boy from Troy," Rep. John Lewis began on Saturday in his hometown of Troy, Alabama.

PHOTO: Pallbearers carry the casket with the body of Rep. John Lewis during The Boy from Troy service celebrating Lewis' life on July 25, 2020, in Troy, Ala.
Pallbearers carry the casket with the body of Rep. John Lewis during The Boy from Troy service celebrating Lewis' life on July 25, 2020, in Troy, Ala.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The civil rights and voting rights icon died on July 17 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

Lewis, who is also known as the "conscience of the U.S. Congress" and affectionately called "Robert" by his family, was remembered during a public funeral service inside Troy University where attendees wore face masks and practiced social distancing.

The funeral was in true "homegoing" style -- a word used to describe African American funerals celebrating the life of the deceased which often includes heartfelt remembrances.

PHOTO: Mourners sing during the service for the late Rep. John Lewis at Troy University on July 25, 2020, in Troy, Ala.
Mourners sing during the service for the late Rep. John Lewis at Troy University on July 25, 2020, in Troy, Ala.
Brynn Anderson/AP
PHOTO: Rev. Darryl Caldwell speaks as the casket of the late Rep. John Lewis lies in repose during a service celebrating "The Boy from Troy" at Troy University on July 25, 2020, in Troy, Ala.
Rev. Darryl Caldwell speaks as the casket of the late Rep. John Lewis lies in repose during a service celebrating "The Boy from Troy" at Troy University on July 25, 2020, in Troy, Ala. Lewis, who carried the struggle against racial discrimination from Southern battlegrounds of the 1960s to the halls of Congress, died on July 17, 2020.
Brynn Anderson/AP

The day before Lewis' passing, his brother Henry "Grant" Lewis said he had their usual late night conversation where the congressman asked about the well-being of family members by name.

"That's the John Lewis we grew to love ... He worked a lifetime to make sure the world was a better place for everyone," said Henry Lewis, adding, "Before he passed, he was at peace and ready to meet the Lord."

PHOTO: Rep. John Lewis speaks at the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016.
Rep. John Lewis speaks at the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Four of John Lewis' other siblings remembered their brother by echoing his iconic phrases like "good trouble is necessary trouble" and "See something. Say something. Do something."

PHOTO: Rosa Mae Tyner, sister of late U.S. Congressman John Lewis, speaks during his memorial service, at Troy University's Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
Rosa Mae Tyner, sister of late U.S. Congressman John Lewis, speaks during his memorial service, at Troy University's Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

"It's up to us to keep his legacy alive," said Jackson Lewis, a great nephew of John Lewis.

The civil rights leader served 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives serving the 5th Congressional District of Georgia.

John Lewis marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other voting rights demonstrators as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Despite conducting a peaceful demonstration, the peaceful protesters were beaten by police in an event deemed "Bloody Sunday."

PHOTO: People pay their respects to the late Congressman John Lewis, a pioneer of the civil rights movement and long-time member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who died July 17, at Troy University's Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
People pay their respects to the late Congressman John Lewis, a pioneer of the civil rights movement and long-time member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who died July 17, at Troy University's Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters
PHOTO: Titus Sizemore, wearing a face mask with the words "John Lewis, Keep the Faith" at the memorial service for the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis at Troy University's Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
Titus Sizemore, wearing a face mask with the words "John Lewis, Keep the Faith" at the memorial service for the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis at Troy University's Trojan Arena in Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters

Following the Saturday morning service, a private ceremony will honor John Lewis at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma ahead of another public viewing.

PHOTO: Members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity pay their respects to civil rights leader and Democratic Rep. John Lewis, at a memorial service in his hometown of Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
Members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity pay their respects to civil rights leader and Democratic Rep. John Lewis, at a memorial service in his hometown of Troy, Ala., July 25, 2020.
Dan Anderson/EPA via Shutterstock

On Sunday morning, a procession from Brown Chapel will take place, making way to the Pettus bridge where Lewis will cross for the last time.

Over the next week, Lewis will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, Alabama State Capitol and Georgia State Capitol.

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