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Soon, Funeral Service for Civil Rights Icon, Rep. John Lewis; Funeral for Congressman John Lewis. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 30, 2020 - 11:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us to discuss as we are awaiting the beginning of these services, our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, our political commentator, Van Jones, and CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip.

Van, I want to start with you.

Today is John Lewis' last march, the last of many marches where he left an indelible mark on history.

And such an organizer such a marcher, he made plans we would hear him one more time in this wonderful essay in the "New York Times" today, where John Lewis urges people to pick up the baton, to continue marching and follow the calling of their heart, to do it in a peaceful nonviolent way, what he called a more excellent way.

It was quite touching to read those words.


KING: Hold your answer one sec. We're going to listen to the bells ring here at St. John's church here in Washington.


KING: That is St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House in Washington. And other churches around the nation ringing their bell to begin this hour to pay tribute to John Lewis as his funeral services are about to begin there in Atlanta.

Van Jones, I'm sorry to interrupt you. Just making the point that this is -- this is the final march.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & CNN HOST, "THE VAN JONES SHOW": Yes. You know, it's -- it's such a powerful moment. This summer, you have the death of a legend and the rebirth of a movement happening at the same time. And it feels like this -- this bittersweet completion of a circle.

He was the young voice, the voice, what you now call Black Lives Matter, and it's so controversial and people don't know what to think about it. That was the student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the early 1960s through the mid-1960s. And he was that young voice, the youngest guy on stage, already a

national figure at 23 years old. A couple years later, beaten within an inch of his life.

And now, as he passes on, what an unbelievable movement. All these, you know, thousands and John Lewises and Janette (ph) Lewises across the country rising up to take the baton.

But it would take a movement of the size that you see to take a baton from that man. That man, every day of his life, represented the best in this country.

It feels like the death of dignity when had you put him down. It feels like the death did have decency. And yet, look at the rebirth of young people coming right behind him to take it forward.

KING: Dana Bash, to that point, John Lewis radical in his youth and much more humble his older age, always talking about the next generation.

Before we hear from three presidents today, we're going to hear from a young man who you helped introduce to John Lewis, a young man you met waiting for John Lewis once and helped to arrange to get them together. Tell us about that story?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: His name is Tybury Paul (ph). We saw him, we were in Selma with John Lewis on one of his trips down there. It was 2018. And Tybury Paul (ph) he was just standing there stoically holding a sign, "Thank you, John Lewis."

We went up to him and his grandmothers who drove him seven hours from Tennessee to get there. And he just went with the hope of potentially meeting him.

As you see there, that happened. And it wasn't just a quick encounter. Lewis took him on the walk right then and there across that bridge and befriended him. Invited him to Atlanta to do another march. And invited him to Washington to his office in the capitol where Tybury (ph) said he would follow in his footsteps and become a member of Congress himself.

They stayed in touch so much that the Lewis family asked Tybury (ph) to read a poem. He's only 12 years old. At that point, he was 10 then, and he's 12 now. And he's in that historic church right now getting ready to speak before three former presidents.

That's John Lewis passing the torch and seeing the hope and the possibility in a young man just as he was all those years ago.

KING: And, Abby Phillip, I'm looking forward to hearing from the presidents because, you know, John Lewis worked closely with Bill Clinton. He worked very closely with Barack Obama. He, at times, worked closely with George W. Bush. At times they were not -- they were at odds over things like the war in Iraq.


But John Lewis had this unique standing where anybody would tell you -- and there's the former president there and Laura Bush coming into the church in Atlanta. They would just tell you, when in his presence, he had this unique place.

It will be interesting, I think, good for the country today to hear these reflections.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And I think that just the fact that, as you just saw, George W. Bush walking into that church to pay tribute to the man who boycotted his inauguration, tells you so much about how larger-than-life John Lewis was as a political figure, as a historical figure and icon for this country.

You know, John Lewis never minced words about what he thought was right and wrong. As he said in his final words to the country today in that op-ed, you must -- if you see something, you must say something. And he always did that.

And I think that, you know, the people who knew him in Washington, whether they agreed or disagreed with him on some of those issues, they respected the sort of moral authority that he had to do that.

And, you know, just to bring it back a little bit to what Dana was talking about, you know, it's very touching to hear that story because John Lewis connects so deeply with young people because he himself was so young.


KING: Abby, I just want to interrupt for one second here.

This is the Lewis family. You see President Clinton as well coming into the church. Let's just listen for just a moment. My apologize.

REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: Yes, child, he'll live again. Whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. For I know that my redeemer lives and that he shall stand with me at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my fleshly see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another.

Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.

For the dead must be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed. This mortal must put on immortality. This corruptible must put on incorruption.

And when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, when this mortal shall have put on the immortality, then we'll be brought to pass the saying that is written. Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh, death, where is your sting? Oh, great, where is your victory?

Thanks be unto God who gives us the victory. Thanks be unto God who gave John Robert Lewis the victory, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and liberator.

Let all the children of God say amen.

CROWD: Amen.

WARNOCK: You're in a Baptist church. Say it louder. Amen.

CROWD: Amen!

WARNOCK: You may be seated.

God bless you, my sisters and brothers, you who sit in the sanctuary and those who join us on our church livestream or by television, God bless you and welcome to Ebenezer Baptist Church. The spiritual home of Martin Luther King Jr., spiritual home of John Robert Lewis, America's freedom church.


We have some so say farewell to our friend in these difficult days that have even made grieving more challenging. At a time when we would find comfort in embracing one another, love compels us to socially distance from one another.

But make no mistake, we are together in principle, even if not in proximity. We may not all be in the same room, but we're all on the same page, and we are in touch with the same spirit.

We love John Robert Lewis.


WARNOCK: Come on, give God praise.


WARNOCK: Come on, let -- let the nation celebrate.


WARNOCK: Let us rejoice.


WARNOCK: John Lewis.


WARNOCK: John Lewis. The boy from Troy.



(APPLAUSE) WARNOCK: Let me just offer this. We praise God for John Lewis. And as we gather in this house of God we're reminded that, as a teenager, he actually wrestled with a call to ministry.

As a farmer boy, he used to preach to the chickens. I guess you have to start somewhere. And at age 16, he preached what we Baptists called his trial sermon in a little country church.

But as his life took shape. instead of preaching sermons he became one. He became a living, walking sermon about truth-telling and justice-making. He loved America until America learned how to love him back.

We celebrate John Lewis.


WARNOCK: At a time that there's so much going on in our world, the news cycle is past and moves at a dizzying pace, yet for the last several days, it is as if time stood still while the nation takes its time to remember him.

And I rise simply to ask, in this call to celebration, what is it that has summoned us here and caused us to slow down, to linger for a little while with so much swirling around us?

We're summoned here because, in a moment when there are some in high office who are much better at division than vision, who cannot lead us so they seek to divide us, in a moment when there's so much political cynicism and narcissism that masquerades as patriotism, here lies a true American patriot who risked his life and limb for the hope and the promise of democracy!


WARNOCK: We celebrate John Lewis.


WARNOCK: Beaten and battered, but never bitter and always unbowed. On a bridge in Selma, he stared down bigotry and brutality and tyranny and won.

How did he do it? The great, great grandson of slaves, he received a spiritual power, born of suffering, a moral audacity that transcended human station, and called upon the human law to more closely align itself with the law of love.

Howard Thurman (ph) said, by with massive and creative spirituality, the slave undertook the redemption of a religion that the master had profaned in its midst.

John Lewis' ancestors met a man named Jesus in the brush arbors of Alabama and Georgia and Mississippi. And John Lewis received that faith and took it with him across that bridge in Selma and every other bridge. (APPLAUSE)


WARNOCK: We come to celebrate John Lewis!


WARNOCK: So let us be clear. When President Lyndon Baines Johnson picked up his pen to sign the Voting Rights Bill into law, what he etched in ink had already been sanctioned by blood.

The blood of the martyrs, the blood of Schwerner (ph), Chaney (ph), and Goodman, two Jews and an African-American who were murdered in Mississippi, the blood of Viola Louiso (ph), the blood of John Lewis.

We celebrate John Lewis!

He was wounded for America's transgressions. Bruised for our inequities. The chastisement of our pleas was upon him. And by his fight, we are healed.

So let's remember him today. And let's recommit tomorrow tor standing together and fighting together and voting together and standing up on behalf of truth and righteousness together!


WARNOCK: We'll get through this together. Let's save the soul of our democracy together.


WARNOCK: Let's worship the Lord. Let's worship the Lord together. Thank God for John Robert Lewis.

Let the nation say amen.

CROWD: Amen.

WARNOCK: And let the angels rejoice.

HYDRECA LEWIS BREWSTER, NIECE OF JOHN LEWIS: Good morning. I will be coming from the 23rd Psalms.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness for his namesake.

Yay, though I work through the valley of the shadows of death, I will feel no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Thou anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all of the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Thank you.

ROSALYNN KING, NIECE OF JOHN LEWIS: Good morning. I'll be now reading 1st Chronicles, 13th chapter.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels that didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge and if I had such faith that I could move mountains but didn't love others, I would be nothing.

If I gave everything I had to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable. And it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in an unknown language and unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless, but love will last forever.

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture, but when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child, but when I grew up, I put away childish things.


Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.

All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely. just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.

Thank you.



While we know that death is the great equalizer, we all recognize that each person's experience with it is different. And so I want to extend condolences to you John Miles, the siblings of John Lewis, and the entire Lewis family on behalf of the entire King family, including my Aunt Christine, my dad's only living sibling, who would have been here with us today but for COVID. But rest assured she is viewing us on television as we speak.

Let us pray.

Great and mighty God, whose creator of us all and sustainer of all things, we invoke you on this morning. We welcome you, Holy Spirit, into this place.

We humbly look to you in this hour for wisdom and strength and comfort as we celebrate the homegoing your son and servant, Congressman John Robert Lewis.

Please, Dear Father, comfort this family and grant them a piece of God that passes all understanding. Surround them with your love.

In the words of your servant, Martin Luther King Jr, who reminded us that death is not a period that ends this great sentence of life but a calmer, which punctuates it to a lofty and higher significance.

Help us, oh, God to grasp that truth and see the magnitude of this moment. Not merely as the death of a great soul but as a divine message that says to each and every one of us in this earth, be still and know that I am God. Hear me and heed my message in this hour.

That love, even for an enemy, is the only way to transform this world into a true brother and sisterhood.

We thank you, God, for the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis, who showed us this more excellent way of life. We thank you for honoring us with his presence and allowing our lives to intersect with his life.

Be with his family. Be with those who struggle with him in that movement. And know that he continues to live on in and through each and every one of them and each and every one of us.

We praise you, oh, God, for this nonviolent warrior who fought for true peace, which daddy taught us is not merely the absence of tension but the absence of justice.

As we honor the life of Congressman John Lewis, who shed blood on that Edmund Pettus Bridge, that we might have the right to vote, grant that we never again take that right for granted and that we exercise it no matter what and that we never again tamper with that right.

Overtake this hour, our Congress, that they might restore voting right protections in our nation, as we honor the life of this nonviolent warrior who embodied the very spirit of Christ and showed us that we have the spiritual power to resist injustice and evil and hatred and vitriol with the force of love and truth.

We are eternally grateful, oh, God, that he loved among us for fourscore years and demonstrated on that bridge that physical force is no match for soul force.

Grant us the capacity to follow his example to fight injustice without bitterness and hostility but with a righteous indignation.

Oh, God, as Elijah asked for a double portion of Elijah's anointing as -- as he transitioned, let a double portion of what John Lewis's life is about to fall on us in this hour so that we can continue to get in good trouble.


Anoint us with a double portion in this generation to get into good trouble until there's radical reform in policing in our nation.

Anoint us a double portion to get into good trouble until voter suppression is no longer a part of our body politic.

Anoint us with a double portion to get into good trouble until there's an equitable distribution of wealth in this nation, until everyone has a livable wage and affordable housing and good health care.

Anoint us, oh, God, with a double portion to get into good trouble until all labor is treated with dignity.

Grant us, oh, Father, a double portion to get into good trouble until the school-to-prison pipeline is non- existent and every child gets an equitable education.

Grant us, Dear God, a double portion to get into good trouble until white supremacy around the world is uprooted and dismantled in all of our policies, and everyday practices and behaviors no longer reflect white supremacy.

Grant us a double portion, God, to get into good trouble until this nation truly becomes a compassionate nation, because as daddy reminded us, ultimately, a great nation is a compassionate nation.

Grant us, God, a double portion of anointing to get into good trouble until black bodies are no longer a threat in this world. And black lives have equitable representation, power and influence in every arena.

Grant us, finally, Father God, that a double portion to get into good trouble until love becomes the way we live, the way we lead, the way we legislate, and until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Thank you, oh, God, for this great man who lived among us, who now joins the great cloud of freedom fighters.

And, Lord, we thank you for his life and his legacy. We will continue to get into good trouble as long as you grant us the breath to do so.

It is in the matchless and the majestic and in the mighty name of Jesus the Christ that I do pray. And all of the people of God said together amen. (SINGING)