The San Diego Convention Center was illuminated in red, white and blue on Monday night in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis.
Lewis, who died on Friday at the age of 80, was the youngest and last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists who organized March 1963 in Washington. He spoke just before the group leader, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Two years later, state troops wielding batons beat Lewis bloodily and fractured his skull as he led 600 protesters across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. Televised images of this brutality helped fuel national opposition to racial oppression and encouraged Washington leaders to pass the landmark 1965 Suffrage Bill five months later.
Lewis often said he was arrested 40 times in the 1960s, including five more as a Congressman. At 78, he told a rally he would do it again to reunite the immigrant families separated from the Trump administration. In late December 2019, he announced that he was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.
Rev. Shane Harris, president and founder of the People’s Alliance for Justice, said Monday he was calling on the convention center to honor Lewis with building lights.
“John Lewis dedicated his entire life to fighting for the underdog,” Harris said in a statement. “He marched, was beaten and brutalized for fighting for what was right, and he took all the pain he experienced as a young activist in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and put him in power by serving the same Country he fought for change in … We still have a long way to go to truly honor him by making sure we live up to the equality we preach about as a country, but he has us brought one step closer. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.