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Watch Beautiful Tribute to John Lewis's LGBTQ+ Longstand Allyship

John Lewis LGBTQ+

As the politician's body passed through a rainbow intersection, those watching began to sing "We Shall Overcome."

A man in Atlanta stepped forward and began singing We Shall Overcome as the hearse carrying the body of Representative John Lewis passed through the city's rainbow intersection yesterday. Terrence James began singing the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement as the hearse entered the rainbow-painted crosswalks at 10th and Piedmont Streets, and the crowd joined with him to honor the departed civil rights icon and LGBTQ+ ally.

The hearse was a part of a motorcade that visited the site in remembrance of Lewis's actions as an ally.

Lewis passed away July 17 from pancreatic cancer. He served Georgia's 5th congressional district since 1987. His place in history is secured by his historic contributions to the country's civil rights movement resisting Jim Crow-era segregationist laws that existed throughout the Deep South well into the 1960s. He was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, serving as its chairman from 1963 to 1966. He risked his life taking part in the 1961 Freedom Rides movement which sought to challenge the segregation of Southern buses. Despite being found unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court in separate decisions, segregation was firmly entrenched at the time. A famous picture shows John Lewis and fellow rider James Zwerg, standing together bloodied after they were attacked by segregationists in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2011, Lewis was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President Obama who hailed Lewis as "the conscience of the United States Congress." He was also an early ally of the LGBTQ+ movement, comparing the shared experience of oppression of the Black and queer communities.

"It doesn't matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian American or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian or Jews," Lewis famously said in 2017. "We all live in the same house. The American house."

He spoke out agains tthe Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, before many mainstream Democrats, and has repeatedly written and spoken about his support for LGBTQ+ rights.

After his death, Lewis's body was taken on a final journey that traced some of the civil rights paths he had blazed earlier in life. His body was flown to Alabama where it followed the famed 1965 Civil Rights March on Selma. Lewis was later brought to Atlanta, where yesterday Terrence James was moved to sing in honor of the departed leader. His funeral will occur today.

Lewis was married to Lillian Miles in 1968. They had one child together and the couple were together until she passed away in 2012.

RELATED | Civil Rights Hero John Lewis Gives Powerful Testimony on American Inclusivity in Sessions Hearing

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