WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- On Thursday, the Ebenezer Baptist Church hosted John Lewis’ funeral service that was attended by top US officials including former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
- Hundreds of people flocked outside the church to mourn and hear the eulogies for the late congressman and civil rights icon.
- Before his passing, Lewis wrote an essay and asked The New York Times to have it published on his funeral day, leaving a message for the American people.
The funeral service of the late Georgia representative and civil rights icon John Lewis was placed on Thursday at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church where people mourned, admired, and celebrated his life as an American hero.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush participated in the eulogies to pay tribute to Lewis. Former President Obama was also anticipated to speak at the gathering.
“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,” Bush said, speaking from the podium
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also spoke at the gathering where she recalled that a double rainbow appeared when Lewis’ body was lying at the US Capitol.
“There was this double rainbow over the casket… He was telling us, ‘I’m home in heaven, I’m home in heaven.’ We always knew he worked on the side of angels, and now he is with them,” Pelosi said.
Lewis’ activist legacy was tied to Ebenezer’s former pastor Martin Luther King Jr., whose preaching was discovered by a 15-year-old Lewis while randomly scanning the radio. Lewis grew up in Alabama which was still segregated then.
Since then, for the next 65 years of Lewis’ life, King was his inspiration in fighting racial segregation. He also advanced human rights during his long tenure as a congressman and even participated in bloody marches and in the Greyhound bus “Freedom Rides.”
Leading the assembly in prayer, Reverend Bernice King, one of King’s daughters said: “We will continue to get into good trouble as long as you grant us the breath to do so.”
Hundreds of people flocked outside the church to watch the service on a large screen and some of them sang the “We Shall Overcome” gospel song.
Before his passing, Lewis wrote an essay and requested The New York Times to have it published on the day of his funeral. The civil rights icon urged Americans to become the best version of themselves.
“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”
Citing Lewis’ essay in his address, Clinton said: “It is so fitting on the day of his service, he leaves us his marching orders: Keep moving.”