WASHINGTON — The late Rep. John Lewis will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol next week as congressional leaders take extraordinary steps amid the coronavirus pandemic to honor the civil rights leader and allow the general public to pay their respects.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday announced plans to give Lewis the traditional farewell afforded other renowned members of Congress and past presidents.

To do so requires significant safety precautions. The Capitol building has not been open to the general public since March, when the country began to shut down to slow the spread of the virus.

Only a smaller, invitation-only group will be allowed inside the building on Monday afternoon for a ceremony under the Capitol Rotunda. Lewis’s casket will then be moved to the top of the steps at the East Front of the Capitol for public viewing.

The public will remain outside to pay their respects to Lewis, D-Ga., who died July 17 at the age of 80 after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

The viewing will be open to the public from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday. Those waiting in line will be required to wear masks and social distancing will be enforced.


In an announcement, the Lewis family requested that people not travel to Washington from across the country to pay respects during the pandemic and that they instead post virtual tributes “using the hashtags #BelovedCommunity or #HumanDignity.”

There will be a motorcade procession through Washington on Monday that will pass by notable landmarks including Black Lives Matter Plaza on 16th Street NW.

The family has planned six days of celebration of Lewis’s life beginning in Alabama on Saturday and a procession across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Sunday. Lewis will be accompanied by a military honor guard on his final crossing of the bridge, according to details released by the family.

In March 1965, Lewis, then the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, led protesters in a march across the bridge. State troopers beat the demonstrators and Lewis suffered a cracked skull on what became known as Bloody Sunday.

The days marking his life will conclude in Georgia, where he will be laid to rest on Thursday after a private service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached.

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