ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Inside Ebenezer Baptist Church, family members, friends, and dignitaries bid their final farewells to civil rights legend Congressman John Lewis.
“He was wounded for America’s transgressions. Bruised for our inequities,” said Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Outside the church, a crowd of people paid their final respects. “This was just an awesome, awesome celebration of his life. And everybody was so accurate,” said Phyllis Winchester, a Lawrenceville resident.
Lewis was known for what he called, getting into “good trouble.” It’s a legacy many say they hope will inspire more people in the years to come.
“Continue the good trouble legacy, doing what’s right, fighting for what’s right,” said Lorna Wells, who traveled to the service from Memphis, Tennessee.
The crowd watched the service on a big screen set outside the front of the church, and they heard the sound of 80 bells, representing Lewis’s 80 years of life.
Celebration of Life Service for Congressman John Lewis now underway at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/seocuJWGwa
— Valencia E. Jones (@vjreports3) July 30, 2020
They also witnessed three former presidents pay tribute to a life they say was well-lived. “He always believed in preaching the gospel, in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope,” said President George W. Bush. “When he could have been angry and determined to cancel his adversaries, he tried to get converts instead,” President Bill Clinton said. Former president Barack Obama delivered the eulogy, saying Lewis was a friend. “He was a good and kind and gentle man, and he believed in us, even when we don’t believe in ourselves,” he said.
Obama said the very things Lewis fought for are under attack. “John Lewis devoted his time on this earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and what’s best in America that we’re seeing circulating right now,” said Obama.
He’s calling on legislators to pay tribute to Lewis by renaming a voting rights law he fought for, calling it the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Obama and others say the journey for voting rights, equality and justice continues. “As we honor the life of Congressman John Lewis, who shed blood on that Edmund Pettus Bridge that we might have that right to vote, grant that we may never again take that right for granted,” said Reverend Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and CEO of The King Center.
“We always knew he worked on the side of the angels, and now he is with them,” said Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
Several speakers said one way to honor the legacy of Congressman John Lewis is to speak up for what’s right, and as he would say, “get in some good trouble, some necessary trouble.”