Stamp honoring John Lewis unveiled at U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON — Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol was Congressman John Lewis’ favorite place to roam because he enjoyed meeting tourists, sharing stories about the civil rights movement, and shaking hands with colleagues and the police officers who helped keep them safe.

Some of those same colleagues gathered in the hall Wednesday afternoon to unveil a forever stamp that will carry Lewis’ likeness and help celebrate his life and legacy nearly three years after his death. Among them was House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said Lewis was a living monument to the fight against racism and discrimination.

“Almost three years ago, the body of Congressman John Lewis was carried out of the Rotunda and down the steps of the Capitol for the final time,” said McCarthy, a California Republican. “But in many ways, the spirit of John Lewis, who represented the people of Georgia in Congress for more than 30 years, has never left these halls. John Lewis was an extraordinary man with courage, compassion and moral character.”

McCarthy helped drop the curtain to unveil a mural-size replica of the stamp alongside former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and two longtime Lewis aides, Michael Collins and Linda Earley Chastang.

The depiction on the stamp is based on a photograph of Lewis published in the Aug. 26, 2013, issue of Time magazine. The stamp will go on sale after a July 21 ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta. In August, the city’s main post office will be named after Lewis.

Chastang, who once served as Lewis’ chief of staff and now leads the foundation he launched before his death, fought back tears as she noted that Republicans and Democrats had gathered once again to honor the civil rights icon known for reaching across the aisle.

“He would see this ceremony as a symbol of unity and would be honored at this reminder of his legacy and the values for which he stood,” she said. “His words would echo his sentiment that we may not have chosen the same path, but we are all in this together.”