John Lewis mourned as 'founding father' of 'better America'

Grant Boone
July 31, 2020

The nation's first Black president connected Lewis' legacy to the ongoing fight against those who are "doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting".

Mr Lewis, a 17-term Democratic congressman from Georgia, did "everything he could to preserve this democracy and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we have to continue his cause", Mr Obama said.

Obama was the third former president to speak at Lewis' funeral, with former President George W. Bush remembering the way Lewis insisted "that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope" and former President Bill Clinton praising Lewis for fighting to "open the doors of America to all its people".

"Later I saw him on many occasions in Nashville while I was in school between 1958 and '61", Lewis said.

"We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his abiding faith in the power of God, in the power of democracy, and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground".

"To those who have said, 'Be patient and wait, ' we have long said that we can not be patient", he added.

In a lighter moment during the service, former president Bush spoke of Lewis' humble beginnings in Troy, Ala., raising chickens on a small family farm. His body was flown to Georgia on Wednesday, where he is lying in state at the state Capitol before being taken to Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary.

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Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, called Lewis a "true American patriot". "We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now!"

Lewis was badly beaten there in 1965, but on Sunday, he was saluted by Alabama state troopers as his casket made its way across the bridge, led by a trail of red rose petals.

"Dr. King said that in the 1960s", Obama said, standing in King's former church.

In 2010, Obama awarded Lewis the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2015, he joined the congressman in Selma to pay homage to those who fought racial oppression on "Bloody Sunday".

"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history", Mr Trump said.

In his tribute, Mr Clinton referenced a column that Lewis wrote to be published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral service. "George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators", Obama said, raising his voice's volume as those in attendance began to applaud. 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 almost 50 years ago while marching for voting rights.

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