In 1965, a 25-year-old Lewis was one of the demonstrators who helped lead a march for voting rights in Selma. When the protesters made it to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met with heavy opposition from local and state enforcement. These Black peaceful protesters were brutally beaten in an event that is now known as "Bloody Sunday." During Bloody Sunday, Lewis was beaten with clubs until he suffered a fractured skull.
"I gave a little blood on that bridge," Lewis said when describing the incident years later. "I thought I was going to die. I thought I saw death."
This march became a turning point in the Civil Rights movement as it was televised for the country to see. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 shortly after the horrific incident.
Watch John Lewis' ceremony in Selma above.
Lewis—who was born in Troy, Alabama—had a short ceremony outside of Brown Chapel AME Church on Sunday morning. His body was then paraded several blocks through Selma before reaching the bridge. The casket on the caisson crossed the bridge alone. It also paused under the awning that displays the bridge's name for close to a minute. The casket then met Lewis' family and state troopers on the other side of the bridge.
This event was part of a six-day ceremony to celebrate the life of John Lewis which began in his hometown on Saturday. The tenured Georgia Democrat died on July 17 at the age of 80 after a 6-month bout with cancer.