By John McGowan
John Robert Lewis, a native son of Alabama, born February 21, 1940, in Pike County was known as “The Boy from Troy.”
A Celebration of Life was held on July 25, 2020, from the Trojan’s Arena on the campus of Troy University.
Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. and The Honorable Jason Reeves, Mayor of Troy greeted the family.
Tributes were given by his brothers and sisters. Dottie Peoples, Award-Winning Gospel Recording Artist, sang “On Time God. and Sheila Jackson sang a selection named “Hero.”
In Dr. Hawkins’s greetings, he acknowledged that John Lewis was denied entry into Troy Teachers College due to segregation.
Years later, Lewis received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Troy State University and the Hall-Waters Prize.
The Hall-Waters Prize is endowed by TROY alumnus Dr. Wade Hall, an author, former member of the faculty at the University of Florida, and former professor emeritus of English at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.
Dr. Hall, a native of Bullock County, endowed the prize as a memorial to his parents, Wade Hall Sr. and Sarah Elizabeth Waters Hall.
The award is presented regularly to a person who has made significant contributions to Southern heritage and culture in history, literature, or the arts.
On Sunday, July 26, 2020, a celebration of life was held in Selma, Alabama at Brown Chapel AME Church. After the service, Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge and traveled the Civil Rights Trail to the State Capitol in Montgomery to lie in state. Montgomery held a vigil for Congressman John R. Lewis at the Bicentennial Park on Sunday evening.
Steven Reed, Montgomery’s first black mayor, greeted everyone on behalf of the citizens of Montgomery. Speakers included: Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Civil Rights Attorney Fred D. Gray; Joe Reed, chair of the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC); Black Voters Matter co-founder Latosha Brown; Original Freedom Rider Bernard Lafayette; and Selma-to-Montgomery March participant Sheyann Webb-Christburg.