So many things we enjoy today without fear are built upon the sacrifices of others.
That realization truly hit home during a recent drive to get people out to vote, Candice Spivey told a crowd gathered on the Town Green on Tuesday to honor the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
“At no point during that drive did I fear for my life — because of ‘good trouble,’ because of Congressman Lewis,” she said referencing the terrorist tactics historically employed against Black people in the South to prevent them from voting.
The keynote speaker at that gathering, Joshua Murfree, encouraged listeners to not give up the fight for what is right.
“When you pick up that torch you can’t talk about black. You can’t talk about white. You can’t talk about Asian pacific islander — you talk about the human race,” he said.
At that same gathering in Rome, Rev. Terrell Shields talked of memories imparted to him from those who marched in the civil rights movement and the changes that have resulted from those marches.
“Many things have happened since they went down (U.S. Highway) 80 East to Montgomery,” Shields said.
Lewis was brought back to his hometown of Atlanta on Wednesday for one of the last memorial services for the late Democratic congressman before he is buried.
Members of the public were able to pay their respects to Lewis at the state Capitol rotunda following a ceremony in his honor. A private burial service in Atlanta is scheduled for Thursday.
The service on Wednesday in Atlanta was a part of a series of public remembrances for Lewis that began over the weekend.
People lined the streets as the hearse carrying Lewis’ body moved through downtown. It stopped briefly in front of a mural of Lewis with the word, “Hero,” before arriving at the State Capitol, where it was met by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
A memorial service at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Monday drew Congressional leaders from both parties. Lewis was the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, his flag-draped casket was carried down the Capitol steps and placed in a hearse as people watched solemnly, many with their hands on their hearts.
In 1965, John Lewis and hundreds of civil rights advocates marched that route to draw attention to the need for voting rights in Alabama, which was infamous for denying Black Americans the right to vote.
As Lewis and the group crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma they were severely beaten in an incident which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”
On Sunday, his casket was carried across that same bridge along with a long procession in honor.
In Rome on Tuesday, a candlelight vigil marked by song and prayer crossed a different bridge. Bishop Norris Allen and Rev. Carey Ingram led the gathering in song and Mayor Bill Collins led a short prayer.
Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80. Born to sharecroppers during Jim Crow segregation, he was beaten by Alabama state troopers during the civil rights movement, spoke ahead of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the nation’s first Black president in 2011.
Lewis spent more than three decades in Congress, and his district included most of Atlanta.