At age 25, Lewis and other marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge were met by heavily armed state and local police who attacked them with clubs, fracturing Lewis’ skull.
Following a short ceremony outside of Brown Chapel AME Church, Lewis’ body will travel on a horse-drawn caisson through several blocks of downtown Selma until it reaches the base of the bridge shortly after 10 a.m. local time. Lewis’ casket on the caisson will cross the bridge alone. The caisson will pause as it crosses the bridge beneath the awning that bears the bridge’s name for approximately one minute.
After crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the last time, family members and Alabama state troopers will greet the body of the late congressman on the other side. Fifty-five years ago, state troopers were among the law enforcement officers that clashed with protesters on the same bridge.
Lewis served as the US representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for more than three decades and was widely considered the moral conscience of Congress because of his decades-long embodiment of the nonviolent fight for civil rights. He was known for getting into “good trouble,” and by his own count, the congressman was arrested more than 40 times during his days of civil rights activism.
“It is good to be in Selma, Alabama, one more time,” Lewis said as he spoke to the crowd assembled on the bridge. “To take a little walk to try to dramatize the need for the rights of all our people to be able to participate in the democratic process.”
This story has been updated with additional details about the bridge crossing.
CNN’s Kevin Bohn, Veronica Stracqualursi, Devan Cole, Suzanne Malveaux, Lauren Fox, Faith Karimi, Brandon Griggs, Jim Acosta and Haley Byrd contributed to this report.