NewsNational News


3 former presidents mourn John Lewis at funeral in Atlanta

President Barack Obama to give eulogy for Rep. John Lewis
President Barack Obama to give eulogy for Rep. John Lewis
Posted at 8:56 AM, Jul 30, 2020

After several days of public memorials in Alabama and Washington, D.C., a funeral service for Rep. John Lewis took place in the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The same church that was formerly led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Former President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy for Lewis during Thursday's service, speaking passionately about Lewis' so-called good trouble and both his protests and politics for change. He called Lewis “a man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance."

"George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators," he said, referring to the segregationist Alabama governor who ran for president on a hard-right platform in 1968 and recent images from Portland, adding that there are still battles to be fought for voting rights and equality.

Obama talked about ways to continue Lewis' legacy; restoring the Voting Rights Act, allowing former inmates to vote, adding polling locations, making Election Day a federal holiday and allowing Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico to have full representation in Congress.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also spoke during the service, both recounting stories from Lewis' life, including a popular story of the representative preaching to chickens as a child.

"It is so fitting on the day of his service, he leaves us our marching orders: Keep moving," Clinton told the crowd, encouraging the audience the continue the work Lewis started.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi talked about personal moments of levity with Rep. Lewis. Including his dancing and retelling a story Lewis had shared with her, when his granddaughter asked if he sang with the civil rights movement, Lewis reportedly responded "They asked me to sing solo once. So low they couldn't hear me."

"John wasn't on the right side of history, history was on the right side of John," said William Craig Campbell, Former Mayor, City of Atlanta.

President Donald Trump did not attend a public viewing for Lewis that was held in the Capitol Rotunda earlier this week and there is so far no mention of him attending the service Thursday in Atlanta.

Thursday's service marks the culmination of nearly a week of celebrations of the longtime Georgia congressman and civil rights leader. In Alabama, Lewis' casket was carried by horse-drawn carriage across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama — the place where he was beaten by police nearly 50 years ago while marching for voting rights. That march inspired the passage of the Voting Rights Act just a few months later.

On Monday, Lewis' body was flown to Washington, where his body laid in state at the Capitol Building — an honor only afforded to the most highly respected lawmakers.

Following Thursday's service, Lewis will be buried at Atlanta's South View Cemetery — the same cemetery where King is buried.