John Lewis honored as he becomes the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda

JOHN Lewis has become the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

During a Monday ceremony in the United States Capitol Rotunda, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the late Georgia congressman and civil rights leader.

Pelosi commended Lewis for being "a titan of the civil rights movement" and the "conscience of the United States Congress."

The Democratic leader added: "We knew that he always worked on the side of the angels, and now we know that he is with them."

McConnell, also speaking at the memorial service, said: “All of John’s colleagues stand with his son John Miles, their family, and the entire country in thanking God that he gave our nation this hero it needed so badly.

"May all of us that he leave behind under this dome pray for a fraction of John’s strength to keep bending that arc on toward justice.”

He also commended Lewis for treating "everyone with respect and love.”

A funeral procession for John Lewis led his casket to the center of the United States Capitol Rotunda – where he was set to stay for a few hours.

Lewis is the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda.

It comes a year after Elijah Eugene, a Representative from Maryland, was also chosen to lie in state – but instead at the National Statuary Hall.

Eugene was the first African American to lie in state at the National Statuary Hall.

High temperatures in Washington, DC – which possibly reached up to 96 degrees midday – appeared to cause a member of the military honor guard to faint during the procession.

The incident caused a minor delay in the start of the ceremony.

Lewis passed away on Friday in Atlanta after receiving hospice care to treat pancreatic cancer.

He was honored with a motorcade procession as part of a days-long tribute to the revered freedom fighter.

His coffin was first placed under the Capitol Dome in Washington, DC and will be moved to the Capitol steps this evening.

Lewis' casket was driven over the new Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House before arriving to the Capitol Dome.

Other notable sites the motorcade passed by includes the Martin Luther King memorial, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Lincoln Memorial.

Approximately 46 family members and friends of Lewis participated in the motorcade.

Last week, Pelosi and McConnell had announced the details of the invite-only rotunda ceremony.

Following the private ceremony, public viewing is allowed on the steps.

Viewing will be allowed from 6pm to 10pm on Monday and 8am to 10pm on Tuesday.

Mask-requirements and social distancing rules must be followed by visitors.

The Monday ceremony, starting at 1.30pm, comes a day after Lewis' body crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama for the final time.

The bridge became a landmark for the civil rights movement after Lewis and other demonstrators were beaten by police while crossing it during a march in 1965.

On Saturday, a service was held for Lewis in an arena at Troy University in Alabama, the state of his birth, with his surviving siblings and others paying tribute.

Saturday's ceremony kicked off six days of tributes.

Lewis' great-nephew vowed to carry on the civil rights icon's legacy as loved ones paid tribute to a memorial his home town.

Jackson Lewis Brewster, 7, touched hearts with his tribute at the Saturday memorial service in Alabama.

The week of solemn commemorations will end on Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia.

Lewis will be laid to rest in Atlanta after a private service in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King once preached.

Lewis was the senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a man known as the "conscience of the Congress."

While attending segregated schools in Alabama, Lewis was inspired by the peaceful protests of rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.

He eventually rose to join their ranks and since 1987 he had represented a Georgia district in Congress.

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