Former President Barack Obama delivered an emotional and powerful eulogy during the funeral services for the late Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.
“It is a great honor to be back at the pulpit of its greatest pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to pay my respects to perhaps his finest disciple, an American whose faith was tested again and again to produce a man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance, John Robert Lewis,” Obama said.
“I’ve come here today because I, like so many Americans, owe a great debt to John Lewis and his forceful vision of freedom… John Lewis did not hesitate,” the former president continued. “He kept on getting onboard buses and sitting at lunch counters. Got his mugshot taken again and again, marched again and again, on a mission to change America.”
Lewis passed away on July 17 following a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was the last surviving speaker from the historic 1963 March on Washington. In 1965, Lewis helped lead the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. This event later became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
“When John woke up and checked himself out of the hospital, he would make sure that the world saw a movement that was, as the scripture says, hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed,” Obama recalled. “What a revolutionary notion, this idea that ordinary people, a young kid from Troy, can stand up to the powers and principalities and say, ‘No, this isn’t right, this isn’t true, this isn’t just. We can do better.’”
“America was built by John Lewises,” he continued. “He, as much as anyone in our history, brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideas, and someday when we do finish that long journey towards freedom, when we do form that more perfect union…John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.”
Obama also touched on the current climate of this country under the Trump administration, specifically the issues that citizens are facing with voting in the upcoming election.
“We may no longer 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 darndest to discourage people from voting, by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run up to an election that’s going be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”
“What a gift John Lewis was,” the former president concluded. “We are all so lucky to have had him walk with us for a while and show us the way.”
Watch Obama’s full eulogy below.