NBC News reports:
Former president Barack Obama gave a soaring eulogy for John Lewis, urging Americans to honor the legacy of a civil rights giant by engaging in the “good trouble” that leads to a more perfect democracy in the face of powerful institutions that seek to oppress.
The former president spoke on the current threat to voting rights in America, a cause that Lewis nearly gave his life for as a young man, and the responsibility citizens have to continue to engage in the fight for equality.
“Bull Connor may be gone, but today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama said. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”
ABC News reports:
“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,” Obama said at Lewis’ Atlanta funeral.
Obama then put the spotlight on today’s politics, alluding to the killing of George Floyd in custody and police use of force at the protests that followed. The crowd cheered as he railed against restrictive voting practices that disproportionately impact minority voters’ access to elections.
President Donald Trump is the only living president who had no role in the funeral, a distinction that didn’t go unnoticed as several speakers marveled at the number of presidents who were able to travel to Atlanta to celebrate Lewis’ life.
Trump had no events on his schedule for Thursday morning but was slated to tour the American Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C. and participate in a roundtable on donating plasma in the afternoon.
He spent his morning bashing mail-in voting on Twitter and questioning whether the presidential election should be postponed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.”
From the full text of the eulogy:
Once we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, we should keep marching to make it even better by making sure every American is automatically registered to vote, including former inmates who’ve earned their second chance.
By adding polling places and expanding early voting and making Election Day a national holiday, so if you are somebody who’s working in a factory or you’re a single mom, who’s got to go to her job and doesn’t get time off, you can still cast your ballot.
By guaranteeing that every American citizen has equal representation in our government, including the American citizens who live in Washington, D.C., and in Puerto Rico. They’re Americans.
By ending some of the partisan gerrymandering, so that all voters have the power to choose their politicians, not the other way around. And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do.