President Donald Trump said Monday he would not visit the body of John Lewis, who is lying in state in the Dome of the Capitol, the first African American to be given that honor since Rosa Parks.
‘I won’t be going. No,’ President Trump told reporters at the White House before he left for North Carolina.
Trump left Washington D.C. as Lewis’ body arrived at the U.S. Capitol building, where lawmakers honored his legacy as a member of Congress and Civil Rights icon.
President Donald Trump said he would not visit the body of John Lewis, who is lying in state in the Dome of the Capitol
John Lewis is the first African American to lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda since Rosa Parks
John Lewis’ flag-draped casket is carried up the Capitol stairs by a military honor guard
Lewis is the first black politician to lie in state beneath the Rotunda. Elijah Cummings was in a separate area of the Capitol
Vice President Mike Pence, who served in the House of Representatives with Lewis, is scheduled to pay his respects at the Capitol on Monday night, along with second lady Karen Pence.
Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and Jill Biden will also be at the Capitol on Monday to honor Lewis.
A Democratic member of Congress from Atlanta since 1987, Lewis died on July 17 of pancreatic cancer at age 80.
His death came amid renewed racial tensions in the United States, which resulted in national protests after George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, was killed after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
President Trump has been accused of stroking the fires, declaring himself the ‘law and order president’ and denouncing a ‘culture war’ in America.
He called on governors to send in troops against protesters. Lewis criticized the president on the matter.
‘You cannot stop the call of history,’ he said shortly before his death. ‘You may use troopers, you may use fire hoses and water, but it cannot be stopped. There cannot be any turning back. We’ve come too far, made too much progress, to stop now or to go back. The world is seeing what is happening, and we are ready to continue to move forward.’
Last month, in his last public appearance, Lewis joined Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at a street by the White House that had been painted with a yellow mural reading ‘Black Lives Matter.’
Lewis was honored with a ceremony in Capitol rotunda on Monday afternoon by lawmakers from both political parties. His colleagues on Capitol Hill referred to him as the ‘conscience of Congress.’
A public viewing of his body will begin Monday night. But due to coronavirus restrictions, Lewis’ casket will be placed atop the stairs at the East Front of the Capitol with the public walking by outside and social distancing strictly enforced.
Last year Elijah Cummings, another civil rights advocate, became the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol, though he was honored in Statuary Hall, not in the Rotunda, where presidents and other statesmen have lain.
Rosa Parks, the civil rights pioneer, lay in honor there in 2005, receiving the highest honor afforded to a private citizen.
Trump paid tribute to Lewis last Saturday, after he returned from a spot of golf with Senator Lindsey Graham earlier in the day.
‘Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family,’ Trump tweeted.
Otherwise he has said little publicly about Lewis, who was honored by political leaders in both parties for his life’s work.
Lewis did not attend Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 and said the president’s election was not legitimate.
‘I don’t see this President-elect as a legitimate president,’ Lewis told NBC News at the time. ‘I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.’
Trump responded via Twitter, writing in January 2017: ‘Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad.’
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser presented a Black Lives Matter Plaza street sign to a representative of the family of John Lewis
Lewis’s motorcade passing through Black Lives Matter Plaza, in Washington DC. The site was renamed earlier this summer
Donald Trump has offered his condolences to John Lewis (pictured) and the White House flags have been lowered to half-staff in honor of the civil rights activist whose bloody beating at Selma helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation
John Lewis is pictured (left) with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (center) at a demonstration in Nashville
Donald Trump tweeted Saturday to say he was ‘saddened’ by the news of Lewis’s death and was ‘praying’ for his family
Flags at the White House, the Capitol, public buildings, and military bases were all lowered to half-staff across the country Saturday in honor of the pioneer of the civil rights movement turned Congressman.
Lewis was the last surviving member of the Big Six, who together organized the 1963 March on Washington.
He was among the original 13 Freedom Riders who rode buses across the South in 1961 to challenge segregation in public transportation.
The riders were attacked and beaten, and one of their buses was firebombed. But the rides changed the way people traveled, and set the stage for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
He also was beaten in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, as he tried to lead people across Edmund Pettis Bridge on a walk to Montgomery, – a day that became known as Bloody Sunday.
Lewis’ remains were carried across the bridge on a horse-drawn casket on Sunday. His funeral will take place on Thursday in Georgia.
Timeline of the life of John Lewis
Feb. 21, 1940: Born the son of black sharecroppers near Troy, Alabama.
Fall 1959: Long interested in civil rights and inspired by the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lewis participates in a series of workshops on nonviolent confrontation while attending college in Nashville, Tennessee. He goes on to participate in sit-ins, mass meetings and the landmark ‘Freedom Rides’ of 1961 that tested racial segregation in the South.
January 1963: Serving as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis arrives in Selma, Alabama, to help register black people to vote. Eight months later and just days after helping Martin Luther King Jr. organize the March on Washington, Lewis is arrested for the first of more than 40 times, for civil rights activities in Selma.
March 7, 1965: Lewis is beaten by an Alabama state trooper while attempting to lead an estimated 600 voting rights marchers out of Selma on the way to Montgomery in an violent confrontation now known as Bloody Sunday. He spends two days in a hospital.
March 21-25, 1965: Lewis joins thousands of others during the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.
1971: Lewis takes over as executive director of the Voter Education Project, a program of the Southern Regional Council.
April 5, 1977: Lewis, making his first bid for Congress in metro Atlanta, loses to a popular white politician in a runoff. Later that year he is appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct ACTION, a federal volunteer agency.
Oct. 6, 1981: Lewis wins his first political office with his election as a member of the Atlanta City Council, where he serves until 1986.
Nov. 4, 1986: Lewis is elected to Congress representing Georgia´s 5th District, which includes much of Atlanta. He was re-elected 16 times, most recently without opposition in 2018. Only once did he receive less than 70% of the vote.
2001: Lewis receives the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement, one of a multitude of honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation´s highest civilian honor, presented by President Barack Obama in 2011.
April 27, 2009: Lewis and four others are arrested in Washington during a demonstration at the embassy of Sudan, where they were protesting the expulsion of aid workers amid a humanitarian crisis.
March 8, 2015: Lewis joins Obama, former President George W. Bush and thousands of others in Selma at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
June 22, 2016: Lewis leads a Democratic sit-in on the House floor to protest inaction on gun control measures.
Dec. 29, 2019: Lewis announces he has been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.
July 17, 2020: Lewis dies at the age of 80.