Sisaundra Lewis remembered her late cousin and longtime civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., on “Americas News HQ,” Sunday after his body crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., for the final time.
“He was a beautiful soul and such a dynamic inspiration to so many people in the arena of diversity,” Lewis told host Arthel Neville. “He got on the inside of change and he stirred up some things and he became the conscience of Congress.”
The congressman’s storied fight took him to protests against Jim Crow laws in the South, including the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march in Alabama. In Selma, on what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” Lewis was among those leading hundreds of demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge when they were attacked by state troopers. Lewis was brutally beaten and nearly killed.
Sunday however, found him crossing alone — instead of arm-in-arm with civil rights and political leaders — after his coffin was loaded atop a horse-drawn wagon that retraced the route through Selma from Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where the 1965 march began.
“You can’t help but feel a sense of pride especially knowing what Bloody Sunday was all about and the sacrifice that John put forward for us to have the opportunity to vote and to see him take that last ride over the bridge, it was just very powerful,” Sisaundra said of the moment.
“It just brought chills to my body to think of everything that he has done and everything that he went through to get us to this point.”
Reflecting on her earlier years with her cousin, Sisaundra recalled family gatherings during which the civil rights icon “would tell us the stories of four historical events that have taken place in his life, from the March on Washington, to Selma to Dr. [Martin Luther] King being assassinated, and also the Voting Rights [Act] being signed in 1965,” she said.
As a child, roughly 10 years old, Sisaundra said it “was a lot to take in,” but that she understood she was in the presence of “an iconic civil rights leader.”
Sisaundra, who competed on NBC’s “The Voice” in 2015, told Neville that Lewis “loved music so much” and supported her career on the show.
“I’m a singer and it’s really beautiful to know that John loved music so much. He supported arts and education in a huge way and I was on NBC’s ‘The Voice’ and I did get messages from family that John was supporting me,” she recalled.
Sisaundra added, “Just to know someone so inspiring in your family is looking at you makes you want to fight the good fight and get into ‘good trouble’ as well.”
Fox News’ Frank Miles contributed to this report.