Newswire : Obama gives passionate eulogy as John Lewis honored at funeral in MLK’s Atlanta church

President Obama speaks at John Lewis’ funeral

By Minyvonne Burke and Doha Madani, NBC News

Former president Barack Obama gave a searing eulogy for John Lewis, urging Americans to honor the legacy of a civil rights giant by engaging in the “good trouble” that leads to a more perfect democracy in the face of powerful institutions that seek to oppress.
Obama spoke from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church during the funeral for Lewis in Atlanta on Thursday, where he said he was there because he owed a debt to the 16-term congressman and his “forceful vision of freedom.” Obama, the country’s first Black president, remarked on the instructions given to Americans enshrined in the constitution to create a “more perfect union.”
“John never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country can do,” Obama said. “I mentioned in the statement the day John passed, the thing about John was just how gentle and humble he was. And despite this storied, remarkable career, he treated everyone with kindness and respect because it was innate to him. This idea that any of us can do what he did, if we’re willing to persevere.”
The former president spoke on the current threat to voting rights in America, a cause that Lewis nearly gave his life for as a young man, and the responsibility citizens have to continue to engage in the fight for equality.
“Bull Connor may be gone, but today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama said. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”
While some may criticize those who “dwell on” such injustices during Lewis’ funeral, Obama said they were the same attacks on American democracy that Lewis devoted his entire life to combating. Obama took aim at recent efforts to disenfranchise voters and called on leaders to honor Lewis by revitalizing and protecting voting rights.
“We may not have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting — by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws,” Obama continued.
“And attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”
Remembering a friend, lawmaker, warrior of peace
The private funeral began at 11 a.m. at the church that was once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“We have come to say goodbye to our friend in these difficult days,” the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor, said. “Come on, let the nation celebrate, let the angels rejoice … John Lewis, the boy from Troy, the conscience of the Congress.”
Lewis, who represented Atlanta in the House of Representatives after serving as a young leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, died on July 17 following a monthslong battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80.
In addition to Obama’s eulogy, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton spoke at the funeral that will conclude memorial services held for Lewis over six days in several cities. President Donald Trump did not attend the funeral.

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