President Obama eulogized ‘Founding Father’ John Lewis in Georgia

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I remember working on a congressional campaign during the 2000 election and how the entire vibe of the national campaign changed when Democratic governor Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash just weeks before the election. I remember how his memorial service turned into a political event, with Al Gore and Bill Clinton arriving in Missouri to eulogize their friend. Sometimes, deaths of prominent politicians happen in election years and they can end up changing the dynamic of the race. For Al Gore, it didn’t work out so well. But it felt different yesterday when the late John Lewis was brought home to Georgia for his funeral service. Joe Biden paid his respects to his friend and colleague in Washington, but the big names came out to Atlanta for the funeral: Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Part of me believes that Bush likes popping up at these funerals just because he likes hanging out with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Bush’s eulogy was very Bushy – folksy, religious, personal, patriotic.

Here’s Nancy Pelosi’s speech. When she broke, I broke. She and Mr. Lewis were exceptionally close.

Bill Clinton got in trouble (on my timeline) for suggesting that John Lewis’s nonviolent resistance “won” versus Stokely Carmichael’s black-power revolution. It’s a debate between Malcolm X versus MLK.

Anyway, here was the eulogy everyone wanted to see – John Lewis got to pass the torch of the Civil Rights Movement to the next generation, America’s first black president. Barack Obama’s ability to casually drop his natural wonky, professorial vibe to take America to church is something really special.

Just the sheer fact that for 40 minutes, America got to pretend that this elegant, incredible man was our president again was a gift. Donald Trump didn’t respect John Lewis and didn’t care enough to show up and no one cared. So Obama got to be president again. And President Obama told us that he would not be standing there today if not for John Lewis. He told us to abolish the filibuster if that’s what it takes to get voting rights for every American. He called the filibuster a “relic of Jim Crow.” He called John Lewis a Founding Father of America.

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2010 Medal of Freedom

Obama Remarks on the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Barack Hussein Obama II 44th President of the United States

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40 Responses to “President Obama eulogized ‘Founding Father’ John Lewis in Georgia”

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  1. Mignionette says:

    Beautiful eulogy for a beautiful man and I agree re the filibuster. It’s gotta go.

    Reminds me of Trevor Noah’s recent rant where he says the system is not broken, rather just functioning as it should to continue to oppress people so time to take it apart and rebuild it.

  2. Heather says:

    A beautiful ceremony for a beautiful person. I had almost forgotten a time when people cared and loved and exuded hope.
    I’m so glad that Trump didn’t go; I highly doubt that John Lewis would have wanted him there, anyway…so say we all!

  3. Lightpurple says:

    Jimmy Carter also sent a message that was read during the service. That Trump couldn’t even do that is just deplorable.

    I watched the whole service yesterday. I also broke when Pelosi spoke of the flag.

    Obama delivered. Fiery, passionate, truthful. Onward.

    • Esmom says:

      It wouldn’t have made sense for Trump to be in any way involved, even with a message. I feel like he cemented his status as an outsider who truly cares nothing about our history or our struggles, only himself. He and his family can’t even begin to grasp what public service is, let alone even attempt to pay even the bare minimum of lip service to it. They cover this gaping emptiness with their defiant ignorance.

    • H says:

      I was actually happy the Carters did not attend. Jimmy’s note was eloquent. I was on the phone with a friend and when Obama came on I said, “I have to go, MY president is on TV.”

      The entire ceremony was beautiful. Now we have to march onward, carry John’s fight to the voting booth in November. John had hope, so I have hope.

  4. Heather says:

    Made me sad for our country watching him. He’s such a class act. Contrast his way of speaking to 45 and it’s just…..so depressing. I’m trying to be hopeful but it’s hard. 45 is bringing America down so badly I don’t know if we’ll ever recover. We’re a joke now.

    • Esmom says:

      I don’t know if we’ll recover either. To hear the dismissive and vitriolic comments about Obama yesterday — led by Tucker Carlson — is leading me to believe we never deserved his goodness, intelligence and grace. We are well and truly broken.

      • Betsy says:

        No, now come on, stop that. If you had a friend who was in an abusive relationship would you ever agree with them that perhaps they never deserved goodness? Hell no! We just need to listen to the better angels like Lewis. We need to work on the places we can work so that the actual truth of America matches the lofty rhetoric of America.

      • Chanteloup says:

        Oh thank you, Betsy. I survived an abusive relationship, and that is so apt.

    • Darla says:

      Oh I should have read other comments before I posted. I see I’m not alone. I have such a dread since yesterday. And then as Esmom mentions the open and bold attacks on President OBama.

  5. Snappyfish says:

    It was lovely & sad & beautiful & inspiring. A fitting send off for a truly great man.

    I too remember Mel Carnahan & the fact he remained on the ballot & STILL beat John Ashcroft. Then we had the turmoil of the 2000 election recount & a Supreme Court choosing the POTUS. Then Bush, who said he would unite us picked Ashcroft for AG. So the ONLY people who could cast a vote for Ashcroft voted for a dead man & Bush thought that would unite people? I remember Ashcroft went on to be a horrible AG & spent, I kid you not, 8K on curtains to drape over the Lady of Blind Justice Statute because it has an exposed breast. What kind of deviant does one have to be that a statute of an exposed breast of marble needs a to be covered?

    Back to regular programming. It was a sad day to say good by to a Lion of Congress. We are all better that he lived. His final words, published on the day of his funeral should be the rallying cry as we swarm the polls in November to reclaim our country & Our dignity.

  6. C-Shell says:

    Trump is vile. He tried (and failed) to command the WH press corp to assemble during the funeral/Obama’s eulogy, thinking he could divert coverage to himself. Even Fox ignored him.

    • Darla says:

      Did he? That I missed, and I’m glad.

    • phaedra7 says:

      Take-A-💩 is so damn obsessed with everything President Obama does to the point that it’s childish/immature and ridiculous. It’s as if he is saying “I got press coverage at the same time you said your speech. Nanananana!” (also sticking his nasty tongue out). Bad enough he tried to drag Obama but he didn’t show–and no doubt didn’t want to–any respect nor diplomacy nor professionalism regarding Congressman John Lewis’ memorial services. Damnass!🤬

  7. Darla says:

    I saw on Twitter that a lot of people found this uplifting. But I got so depressed. I’m not even going to try putting it into words and who really cares. But this was not uplifting or hopeful for me. This is where we came from, and I took this all for granted, and now I’m in hell. Doesn’t feel like I’m getting out either.

    • Esmom says:

      Darla, that’s the thing…I see no end in sight for this nightmare, either. Even if Biden does get elected we still have this massive segment of our population who prefer Trump and the ignorance and hate he embodies. It would take generations to begin to undo the deep rooted damage that’s been wrought in our society by misguided policies and destructive propaganda.

      • tempest prognosticator says:

        This is my fear. It’ll take years to fix this country. Some of us may not live long enough to see it.

        I love Obama. Sometimes it just breaks my heart to see him or read his words. I miss the Hope.

      • Prayer Warrior says:

        Is it possible for the next president to simply say: we retract ALL changes made to ALL laws and systems by the previous admin? We reset the clock back to 2016 and will now make laws that reflect our world view, not the view of a TV show game host? Is it possible to retract the laws that changed the laws to protect the environment, for example?

      • Jerusha says:

        @Prayer Warrior. Apparently, Shitgibbon can do anything he wants by signing an Executive Order, so why can’t Biden do the same? And also sign an EO for the immediate arrest of trump and his entire Cabinet, plus quite a few lawmakers.

      • Ragna says:

        If you give in to despair then yes, nothing will change.

        To keep going is sometimes the most difficult part of all, especially when you don’t know the end.

        But here’s the thing. People all throughout history have done it, most of the human achievements around us, from technology, politics, philosophy and more was born in times when people had no idea if the world would be better for them.

        Life was never meant to be easy, pulling together sometimes means falling apart first. By cracking you expose the weaknesses and through it you can begin to address and fix it. Yes it will take time, but most things do.

        Most of these problems aren’t new, they’ve just been brought to light in a way where it can’t be ignored anymore. That’s good, it’s much easier to fix a broken vase in the light than to attempt it in darkness.

        Despair is ultimately meaningless, it changes nothing and is at best a waste of time. At worst it allows you to give in, even if you don’t even notice that you have.

        Changing the character of people doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen

        This change didn’t happen simply because Trump “won” it just brought it to light. They’ve always been there, it’s why you always have to fight it.

        That’s the cost of democracy, not just at the polls, but every day without fail. Voting is not the most important part of democracy, it’s one part of it, but not the most important.

        No political battle is ever truly won forever. It’s just won for now.

      • Chanteloup says:

        @ Ragna, thank you so much for that. John Lewis’ life was the epitome of perseverance and not giving up the fight.

    • Case says:

      Agreed. Now that the Trumpsters have been unleashed and emboldened, I do not know what will become of this country. Not that it was ever in the best state to begin with, but it sure was better than this. The damage that has been done in four years could take lifetimes to fix.

  8. Giddy says:

    John Lewis and Barack Obama represent the best of us. To read the Editorial that Lewis wrote, and then watch that funeral reminded me that men of grace, dignity, and character still exist in the world of politics. The era of Trump is almost over, and has been a nightmare. But we do eventually wake up from nightmares, and we can banish the orange monster.

  9. Jerusha says:

    Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a lovely, heartfelt tribute to John Lewis and PRESIDENT(!!) BHO delivered a barn burner of a speech. I was so glad he went there-it was what John Lewis lived and almost died for. Obama2020(if only😢).

  10. indywom says:

    Obama brings it every time. He is such an eloquent speaker. Trump paints himself as an outsider when what he really wants is to be an insider but deep down knows he does not have the intellectual ability to be in the room with the smart people. That is why he avoids the European leaders and shows more respect for dictators who will flatter him. I loved it when Obama stopped as he was exiting the sanctuary and put on his mask. Such a class act. Too bad so many people like Tucker Carlson are intimidated by the smart black guy. Basically, I think the Fox News people were trying to distract people from the fact that we have 150000 dead people and an economy in a downward spiral with no plans or actions coming from the federal government. And the fact that Herman Cain attended a Trump rally with no mask and died of COVID 19 a month later. The funeral was a great send off to a great person. RIP John Lewis.

  11. Edna says:

    I couldn’t hold back my tears yesterday. Such a beautiful and moving service to honor a great American. It was uplifting and provided some encouragement for the long road ahead.

  12. Frida_K says:

    Both Nancy Pelosi and President Obama left me in tears. I cried so hard at certain points during President Obama’s eulogy that I lost track of the thread and had to read the transcript later to get the full message.

    The loss of John Lewis hit so hard. I’m glad beyond words that his funeral service was not marred by the presence of representatives from the current regime. I’m so glad that President Obama spoke words we all needed to hear, and that Nancy Pelosi’s love for her dear friend was so evident. This genuinely touched my heart.

  13. BnLurkN4eva says:

    As a country we are in so much trouble if we can’t get rid of the current administration come November. At this point, I don’t even know if we can make it safely to November, which seems so far away.

    John Lewis was a remarkable human and he fought the good fight and deserves to rest in peace. Now we must carry on the fight for justice for all and I can already feel the weight of it and the we’ve only just begun.

  14. ChillyWilly says:

    I was in line at the grocery store and President Obama giving his eulogy was on the tv’s at the checkouts. A white male employee in his 50′s said to a black lady in line: “That’s our real President right there. Not Trump. But don’t worry, he’s gone in November. It will be over soon. ”
    And I live in very red Ohio. It gave me a small bit of hope for our country.

    • Frida_K says:

      How did you refrain from bursting into tears at this? I rarely cry in front of others, but I think that this would have done it to me.

      Thank you for sharing this, though. It does give a small burst of hope for us all.

  15. Giddy says:

    Imagine future events that our ex-Presidents will attend. That is the world’s most exclusive club and I don’t think that Trump will be welcomed. Obama, Clinton, and Bush all have reasons to dislike him intensely, and I predict whining from Trump. “I don’t know why they don’t like me. Maybe it’s my personality.” Or just a corrupt.asshole.

    • H says:

      Am I a mean girl to say I cannot wait for those days? I hope all the living presidents SHUN 45 at all future events.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Trump won’t bother to attend anything with other former presidents.

  16. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I went into my room yesterday, put on my headphones, and blocked out the world to actively listen to Obama. It was as though my ears and eyes were being massaged with professionalism. But his words and message targeted my soul. If there are still human beings such as this man who stand upon a dais and urge human excellence through knowledge and education, through family, friends and loved ones, who acknowledge the importance and significance of each and every voice both historically and until the end of time, as long as these humans continue to exist, I’ll hang onto hope. And I’ll give it to anyone and everyone. Because Obama is right. Mr. Lewis did not withdraw. Covered in blood he did not stay down. The trash in the White House has to go. And we need to shove him out and into the mud left from the shoes of all his victims.

  17. Stacy Dresden says:

    I am so sad about losing John Lewis. Thankful we have a former President to provide a meaningful and powerful eulogy.

  18. Prayer Warrior says:

    Anyone else see correlation Wm = trump and Meghan = Obama in terms of how they are treated in the press? Wm trump supported and praised. Meghan Obama vilified for their excellence? How did we allow shite to be our top barometers? Why must excellence be bad and hatred be good? It’s so upside down and sideways and frustrating and hurtful to us all when we don’t allow others to thrive…..

  19. Liz version 700 says:

    Beautiful eulogy, the service was beautiful and fitting for a legend of a man. It was so lovely to hear Obama act like a President. And then, listening to Morgan Freeman read Lewis’s essay. A lot of tears.

  20. adastraperaspera says:

    I thought I was ok after watching until I was chopping vegetables for dinner and I just started sobbing. Clinton speaking reminded me of how ecstatic we all were in ’92 the night he won–finally, finally pushing out the 12 long years of Reagan/Bush. And then ’08, running into the streets of Seattle downtown cheering Obama’s win… How did these vile, ignoble racists gain enough power to now run roughshod in our beautiful capitol so emotionally described by Nancy Pelosi? We have to rise up. We can’t stop fighting after so many before us have sacrificed so much. Onward!

  21. Nev says:

    THE CLASS. I TEARED UP. AND I ONLY CAUGHT THE LAST 5 MINUTES.