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As John Lewis lies in state at US Capitol, some criticize president’s absence

Lewis's motorcade stopped at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House as it wound through Washington before arriving at the Capitol, where the late congressman becomes the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda.
The hearse with the flag-draped casket of Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., drives up Independence Avenue, as a woman on the left kneels, Monday, July 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
The hearse with the flag-draped casket of Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., drives up Independence Avenue, as a woman on the left kneels, Monday, July 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool) [ ALEX BRANDON | AP ]
Published Jul. 27, 2020|Updated Jul. 27, 2020

The body of John Lewis was placed in the U.S. Capitol rotunda Monday afternoon as one of the last public homages to the civil rights pioneer and fierce congressman.

Ceremonies and events have taken place in Atlanta, Selma, Alabama, and now the place where the venerable lawmaker spoke on policies that made an impact in Washington, D.C., and beyond. Lewis, who died July 17 at age 80, is the first Black person to lie in state in the Capitol's rotunda. Rep. Elijah Cummings became the first Black lawmaker to lie in state at the Capitol after his death last year.

Several online onlookers have been tuned in leading into the ceremony honoring Lewis at the U.S. Capitol Monday afternoon. In an unusual occurrence, a serviceman slated to help carry the congressman's casket into the rotunda Monday passed out after reportedly overheating. He was able to walk away with assistance to get care.

While most spectators were focused on each careful step in carrying Lewis' body into the Capitol, others focused on the officials who were not present. President Donald Trump was not in attendance during the D.C. event honoring Lewis _ nor was the president present during the previous events.

Trump in recent days confirmed he didn't plan to attend.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the first person to speak during Monday's event, which she said sought to "acknowledge his sacred life."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also spoke at the event. He reminisced about Lewis' upbringing in rural Pike County, Alabama. Lewis' family was raised in a humble home with no running water or electricity.

"It would've been hard to conceive back then that the young child tending to his family's chickens would be leading the movement to redeem America's society," McConnell said.

Despite the kind words spoken from McConnell about Lewis, some criticized his appearance and statements.

Pelosi spoke about her former colleague a second time during the event before she played audio of Lewis speaking about the significance of being willing to be entangled in "good trouble." Several spectators sitting in the Capitol's rotunda listened with somber looks and some with tears welling in their eyes.

Emotions continued to stir as Florida pastor and Christian vocalist Wintley Phipps hummed and sung the lyrics to the legendary hymn "Amazing Grace."

Some famous names, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., spoke about the future plans that are in play to honor Lewis, including Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., reportedly planning to introduce a voting bill bearing Lewis' name.

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