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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  July 30, 2020 11:00am-12:00pm PDT

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that in all of us there's a willingness to love all people. and extend to them their god-giving rights to dignity and respect. so many of us lose that sense. it's taught out of us. we start feeling as if in fact we can't afford to extend kindness or decency to other people. that we're better off if we're above other people. and looking down on them. and so often that's encouraged in our culture. but john always said he always saw the best in us. and he never gave up.
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and never stopped speaking out because he saw the best in us. he believed in us even when we didn't believe in ourselves. and as a congressman, he didn't rest. he kept getting himself arrested. as an old man, he didn't sit out any fight. sat in all night longen the floor of the united states capitol. i know his staff was stressed. but the testing of his faith produced perseverance. he knew that the march is not over. that the race is not yet won. that we have not yet reached that blessed destination. where we are judged by the content of our character. he knew from his own life that
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progress is fragile. that we have to be vigilant against the darker currents of this country's history. of our own history. where there are whirlpools of violence and hatred and despair that can always rise again. today we witness with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of black americans. george wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. [ applause ]
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we may no longer have to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar to cast a ballot but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to diskerracourage pe from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive id laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run up to an election. it's going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don't get sick. i know there's a celebration of john's life. there are some who might say we
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shouldn't dwell on such things. but that's why i'm talking about it. john lewis devoted his time on this earthiging the very attacks on democracy and what's best in america that we're seeing circulate right now. he knew that every single one of us has a god-givenen power and that the faith of this democracy depends on how we use it. that democracy isn't automatic. it has to be nurturing. has to be tended to. we have to work at it. it's hard.
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and so he knew that it depends on whether we summon a measure, just a measure of john's moral courage to question what's right and what's wrong. and call things as they are. he said as long as he had a breath in his body, he would do everything he could to preserve this democracy and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we had to continue his cause. if we want our children to grow up in a democracy, not just with elections, but a true democracy. a representative democracy, and a big-hearted tolerant, vibrant, inclusive america of perpetual self creation, then we're going to have to be more like john.
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we don't have to do all the things heed to the do because he did them for us. but we got to do something. as the lord instructed paul, do not be afraid. go on speaking. do not be silent. for i am with you and no one will attack you to harm you for i have many in the city who are my people. just everybody's got to come out and vote. we got all those people in the city but they can't do nothing. like john, we've got to keep getting into that good trouble. he knew that nonviolent protest is patriotic. a way to raise public awareness and put a spotlight on injustice and make the powers that be
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uncomfortable. like john, we don't have to choose between protests and politics. it's not an either/or situation. it's a both/and situation. we have to engage in protests where it's effective and we have to translate our passion. and our causes into laws. institutional practices. that's why john ran for congress 34 years ago. like john, we've got to fight even harder for the most powerful tool we have, which is the right to vote. the voting rights act is one of the crowning achievements of the democracy. it's why john crossed that bridge, why he spilled that blood. by the way t was the result of democrat and republican efforts.
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president bush, who spoke here earlier and his father, signed its renewal when they were in office. [ applause ] president clinton didn't have to because it was the law when he arrived. so instead he made a law to make it easier for people to vote. but once the supreme court weakened the voting rights act, some florida legislators unleashed laws designed specifically to make voting harder, especially by the way state legislators where there's
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a lot of minority turnout and population growth. that's not necessarily a mystery or an accident. there's an attack on what john fought for. it was an attack on our democratic freedoms and we should treat it as such. if politicians want to honor john, and i'm so grateful for the legacy and work of all the congressional leaders who are here but there's a better way than a statement calling him a hero. >> right. >> you want to honor john, let's honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for. [ applause ]
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and by the way naming the john lewis voting rights act, that is a fine tribute. but john wouldn't want us to stop there. just trying to get back to where we already were. once we pass the john lewis voting right 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
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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. [ applause ] by ending some of the partisan jerry mandering. 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 crowe relic, in order to secure the god-given rights of every american, then that's what we should do.
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even if we do all this, even if every bogus voter suppression law is struck off the books today, we've got to be honest with ourselves that too many of us choose not to exercise the franchise. too many of our citizens believe their vote won't make a difference or they buy into the cynicism that, by the way, is the central strategy of voter suppression, to make you discouraged, to stop believing in your own power. so, we're going to have to remember what john said. if you don't do anything you can do to change things, then they will remain the same. you only pass this way once. you have to give it all you have. as long as young people are
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protesting in the streets hoping real change takes hold, i'm hopeful. but we can't casually abandoned them at the ballot box. not when few elections have been as urgent on so many levels as this one. we can't treat voting as an errand to run if we have some time. we have to treat it as the most important action we can take. on behalf of democracy, and like john, we have to give it all we have. i was proud that john lewis was a friend of mine. i met him when i was in law school. he came to speak. and i went up and i said mr. lewis, you are one of my heroes.
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what inspired me more than anything as a young man was to see what you and reverend lawson and bob moses and dianne nash and others did. and he got that kind of awe, shuks, thank you very much. next time i saw him i'd been elected to the united states senate. and i told him, john, i'm here because of you. and on inauguration day in 2008/2009, um, he was one of the first people i greeted and
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hugged on that stand. and i told him this is your day too. he was a good and kind and gentle man. and he believed in us. even when we don't believe in ourselves. and it's fitting the last time john and i shared a public forum was on zoom. and i'm pretty sure neither he nor i set up the zoom call because we didn't know how to work it. as a virtual town hall with a gathering of young actors, who had been helping to lead this summer's demonstrations in the wake of george floyd's death. and afterward, i spoke to john privately. and he could not have been
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prouder to see this new generation of activists standing up for freedom and equality. a new generation intent on voting. in some cases, running for political office. and i told him all those young people, john, of every race and every religion from every background and gender and sexual orientation, john, those are your children. they learned from your example. even if they didn't always know it. they had understood through him what american citizenship requires, even if they'd only heard about his courage through the history books. by the thousands, faceless,
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an anonymous young people have taken our nation back to the great wells of democracy dug deep by the founding fathers in the formulation of the constitution and the declaration of independence. dr. king said that in the 1960s. and it came true again this summer. we see it outside our windows and big cities and rural towns. and men and women, young and old, straight americans, and lgbtq americans, blacks, who long for equal treatment and whites, who can no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subgeigation of their fellow americans. we see it in everybody doing the
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hard work of overcoming complacency, of overcoming our own fears and prejudices. our own hatreds. you see it in people trying to be better, truer versions of ourselves. and that's what john lewis teaches us. that's where real courage comes from. not from turning on each other. but by turning towards one another. so much hatred and division but by spreading love and truth. not by avoiding our responsibilities. to create a better america and a
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better world but by embracing those responsibilities with joy. and perseverance. and discovering that, in our beloved community, we do not walk alone. what a gift john lewis was. we are also lucky to have had him walk with us for a while. and show this way. god bless you all. god bless america. god bless this gentle soul who pulled us closer to hiss promise. thank you very much. [ applause ]
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♪ >> thank you so mitch. we are honored to be here. i would like to thank mr. matthew collins for about a week before congressman passed, he called b.b. and so b.b. and i and my sister, c.c., we had opportunity to sing to him. and one of the songs we -- we sang songs differently.
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but one i want you to join is ♪ we shall overcome we shall overcome ♪ ♪ we shall overcome some way ♪ oh he's in my heart ♪ we shall overcome some day ♪ >> i'm hearing that i heard that he opened his eyes because that was the song that led and was
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the heart of those marches. my brother, b.b., has written another song to the memory of uncle robert, as she called him. because he treated us all like family and i hope you enjoy. ♪ born in troy alabama ♪ born in troy, alabama ♪ to eddie and willem ♪ share croppers working in the heat of the day yes they were ♪
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♪ he knew there was much more and so he asked the lord to show ♪ ♪ yes he did ♪ all he's achieved in his life we already know ♪ ♪ we were there when you called in a hurry ♪ ♪ tell you the truth don't you worry ♪ ♪ he was willing to fight in the struggle and he was willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ yes he was ♪ he was willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ and civil holding rights ♪ no matter the problems he
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faced he kept his eyes on the prize ♪ ♪ and then he learned to walk and believe god until the end ♪ ♪ yes he did ♪ and knew we would overcome and love is going to win ♪ ♪ he was there when you called don't you worry ♪ ♪ he tells the truth in a hurry ♪ ♪ he was willing to fight for the struggle and willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ yes he was ♪ oh yes he was ♪ willing to get into trouble ♪ and as you put on your robe to guy home we will continue to
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fight and be strong ♪ ♪ we continue to fight continue to fight ♪ ♪ he was there to call and tell you the truth ♪ ♪ don't you worry ♪ he was willing to fight for the struggle ♪ ♪ and he was willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ he was willing to fight ♪ willing to fight willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ he was willing to fight willing to fight, ready to fight ♪ ♪ willing to get into trouble ♪ he was willing to fight willing to fight ♪ ♪ yes he was ♪ willing to get into trouble ♪ willing to fight he was ready
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ready to fight snoetsz ♪ he was willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ he was willing to fight ready to fight because he was willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ he was willing to fight ready to fight because he was willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ yes he was willing to fight thank you for sacrificing ♪ ♪ and willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪ oh, he was ♪ >> willing to fight ready to fight ♪ ♪ and willing to get into trouble ♪ ♪
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>> let us pray. and when he shall die, take your man and cut him into stars. he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all world will grow in love with night. and pay no worship to the garrison. gracious and loving god, we commend into your safety the soul of your son, john robert
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lewis. you've seen the affidavit of his deeds. yes. he stayed in trouble. good trouble. necessary trouble. he fought the good fight. he finished his course. he kept the faith. and now they've laid up for him a crown of righteousness but not only to him but to all those who love god's appearing. now part of a greater mighty cloud of witnesses, as those who have gone through the great
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tribulation. they wash their robes in the blood of the lamb. the angels rejoice because he has been vindicated by history. he deeds etched into eternity. and his soul received into your glory. in the name of the god who loves us and to freedom and frees us into loving. through jesus christ, our lord we pray. amen.
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we pray that today was a memorable worship experience for all of you. now he'll greet the family along with reverend king and then we will follow the department of defense's instructions as they carry out our representative lewis.
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♪ ♪ ♪
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>> all stands. ♪ family may remain seated, thank you.
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>> at this time, j we ask the members of congress and special invited guests join with us as we enjoy the viral video of our honorable john robert lewis dancing to his favorite song by pharrell williams, entitled "happy." this is an opportunity for all of us to enjoy this worship experience and join in and dance with him and clap along ♪ if you feel like a room without a roof ♪
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♪ >> excuse me.
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i'm john king in washington you're watching here. the flag-covered casket of the late congressman john lewis about to be taken to his final
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restsing place, this just outside one of the great civil rights landmarks in atlanta, georgia, after about a 3.5 hour moving funeral service in honor of the late congressman, the civil rights icon. the speakneers included three former presidents, his deputy chief of staff in washington, three members of the family, another living legend from the civil rights day. a 12-year-old young man lewis met a few years ago who became a close friend of the next generation, if you will. they're gathering outside the church right now. in the words of all three presidents, including the republican president, george w. bush, not once did the current president donald trump come up by name in the current service, but somewhat veiled in the remarks of president bushes and clinton but not at all in the
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words of president obama, a direct challenge to those watching services today to carry on lewis work for civil rights, for a more fair, kind and just democracy, and going so far as invoking the name of george wallless. criticizing the use of federal forces, authorities in recent days against protesters in the united states of america. most of all, though, this is a tribute to a man who's a starting in his 20s, was living history in the united states of america. who shed blood more than 40 times, went to jail from the movement, became a politician and continued those fights. as we watch this moving scene, i want to bring in my colleague who has been there throughout this very moving service, very moving tribute to the life and legacy of john lewis and victor, as the many famous speakers, many unknown to us and close to john lewis, people pay tribute
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inside. you were outside where there's onlookers as well from this remarkable moment. >> there were more people outside than there were the cap of 250 people because of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing and there were a lat of amens and come ones as we heard from the former presidents and those, the luminaries of the civil rights movement. i can tell you as we watch these pictures, the former congressman will be heading to south view cemetery for a private internment, where he will be laid to rest next to his wife of more than 40 years, lillian miles lewis. and that will happen with just a few family members. as we watched what was happening here for about 3.5 hours, this home going service, as it's known in the baptist tradition, in black families, was as much a tribute to the late congressman as it was a call to action.
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as we heard from former president clinton and former president obama, president clinton saying it's time to sutd up. president obama saying you have to do something. you don't have to do what congressman lewis did, but you have to do something. we heard the refrain of do not give up, do not give in, keep the faith, and get into good trouble from several of the people who spoke here as well. we also talked about the arc of his life. many people talking about starting as a young man, preaching to chickens in troy, alabama, and that voices resonating across this world. not just nationally. we heard condolences from the president of guiana as well over the last several weeks. but this is the day, the sixth day of tributes that stretched across alabama and here in atlanta, the district he represented for 17 terms, also in washington, seeing a very emotional, i would say
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uncharacterestically emotional speaker, nancy pelosi, when paying tribute to her friend and late congressman. i'm going to send it back to you. it's starting to clear out as the ceremony has ended pup but we'll come back and have a broader discussion of what we've seen in the last 3.5 hours. >> let me bring into the conversation, dana bash, and abbey philip and our political commentator, angela rye. when you worked in the congress, you worked closely with john lewis. on this day, where people were paying tribute to his life and legacy, i think as victor just noted, the call to arms, the call to continue his work was the common thread throughout the speakers. >> it was. and john what i was most excited about was the fact that in this particular ceremony, you know he's been memorialized all week.
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so much has been talked about. the boy from troy who used to preach to his chickens, who marched across the edman pettus bridge but very rarely have we heard about john lewis who made it across the bridge and the public servient he was when me got to the other side of the bridge. the legislation he passed to insure the national museum for african history and culture would come to fruition. he sat in protest after what happened at pulse night club to insure gun reform would have a vote in the house chamber. the legislator who, of course, fought until the very end to insure voting rights protections for all of us, who got to reside over the floor when the house passed hr ford, which is named the john r. lewis voting rights act after a unanimous consent vote.
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so, to notteenly see members of congress i worked for and see him honored in such a way that paid trib uute to the legacy he held was tremendous. so often staff are in the background and don't get much attention and to see jamila up there today talking about who he was. i thought our staff was special because we had lunch with him every wednesday. turns out he did that with everyone and so i'm so happy we could share that moment together. >> a personal tribute to take you inside the curtain, if you will, of how he was as a man and because in the office. it was very moving. i want to go to victor blackwell who is with a very special guest, who was inside the services. >> reporter: i had to put on the mask here. we have atlanta mayor keisha lance bottoms who attended the service here.
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first, our condolences, because we know this is a friend of yours. often sometimes people attend because protocol dictates. but what we heard from the leaders is this was personal. this was a personal connection to congressman lewis. >> he was my congressman but really all of our congressman and for me, it's a long-standing family connection. my aunt, ruby smith doris robinson is the first executive secretary of snik. and she worked very closely with congressman lewis and he spoke of her so lovingly. he would ask about her son and tear up. and she died at 26, many years ago. but for me, it really was symbolic of just who he was. somebody who loved deeply, who cared deeply, and carried the movement and those who are part of it so closely in his heart.
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and so i love congressman lewis. just to be able to share him with the rest of the world is soeraso very fitting to have this tribute and three presidents in attendance and the speaker and members of congress and just to see the people show up and there were lines around the state capitol last night to just pay respect to him and just a wonderful man and a very fitting service for him. >> there were hundreds outside as well. you'll see the pictures later this evening. but john lewis freedom parkway stretches across this part of atlanta. there's a multistory mural of him. there aren't many members of congress that have that honor. but of course he was more. what is the city of atlanta losing by this loss of congressman lewis? >> we're losing a friend.
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and for so many of us in atlanta, congressman lewis is this larger-than-life icon, he is a person we would see in the grocery store and drugstore and who would stop and take pictures endlessly. and made everybody feel so much special. so, for all of us, we're losing a corner stone of our community but he loved so much with us and that was for us to keep up the good fight and not grow weary and not be bdis mayed by all we see in this country, but stand and fight and do it because it's the right thing to do. and i am so full and so grateful for him. it is certainly a loss for our city. i was in high school when he was
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elected to congress. it was the first congressional race that i watched intently. >> and i think it's important to high height it's not just a loss for the black community in atlanta or across this country. congressman lewis walked and road and sometimes danced in atlanta's pride parades. >> yes, he did. the. >> reporter: and an advocate for seniors as well and so many communities. we talked a lot today about his contrabul contributions during the civil rights movalment but so many communities relied on him to be an advocate. >> absolutely. i've joined him in riding along near him in the pride parade and just to see the excitement when people would see him near and he remained relevant. so many people rest on what they've done in the past. but he continued to push forward with human rights.
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and continued to be our conscience. he was the conscience of congress. and it is -- this is a tremendous loss for our city to have lost congressman lewis and c.t. vivian on the same day and joseph lowry just a few months ago. it's a passing of a generation that's going to -- that's deeply felt by our community. >> so, what now? what is the tribute beyond the services to honor the congressman? >> the tribute is to keep up the good fight. and i joke with the governor on yesterday and the state capitol, i said when the good trouble continues, know that it has the blessings of congressman lewis. it's what he left with us and i don't think it's a happenstance that his last public appearance was at the black lives matter mural in d.c. and the last time i saw him was
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on a zoom call with president obama with the obama foundation for my brother's keeper. so, even until his last days, he was still not just talking the talk, but he was walking the walk, literally. and that's what he leaves with us. as long as you've got fight in you, keep up the good fight. >> and of course that was that letter published in the "the new york times" today. and inspiring, that he inspired you. maybe keisha lance bottoms. condolences. more than a political colleague. a friend as well. thank you for your time. >> thank you for honoring him with your coverage. >> reporter: certainly, certainly. you know it is in the mid to high 80s and humidity is thick. it is no small thing that you had hundreds of people come to ebenezer as close as they could to pay honor to congressman
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lewis. they could have watched this at home, as so many did, but i spoke with some people in the crowd, john, who ed isaid i wout be anywhere else. one of those figure, i only lived here eight years, always be here, irrespective of age and a loss certainly felt as we watch the motorcade soon head to south view cemetery where he will be interned. john? >> you're right. people wanting to get a glimpse of history as we say farewell to a special man. i want to continue the conversation. we try to set politics aside. be honest. john lewis in addition to being a civil rights hero, american icon and kind and gentle man, he also could be, when he thought the right thing to do a fierce partisan and in the eulogy
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today, president obama urging continuing the work and unmistakable, dana, what president obama was doing when he said this, going back to when john lewis crossed that bridge and george wallace, then governor of alabama, sent in the state troopers. >> george wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government senting agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. we may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here there those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting. >> pretty clear, pretty blunt. we are 14 weeks from a
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presidential election and president obama i'm assuming with the full blessing of his now departed friend of john lewis now wanted to make a point, those in power could have been the man in power, you know. there was no subtlety to what president obama was saying, and he said, as we sit here. he was referring to the fact that the current president, who is notably absent why the three living presidents physically able to go did go to john lewis's funeral, the current president tweeted this morning something that is baffling, his republican colleagues more than anything oels he's done recently, which is to say maybe the election should be moved as part of hips ongoing assault on mail-in voting, on the notion of this election being rigged and everything else that he has been saying. so that was clearly an allusion to what president trump is doing
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now never mind the broader trouble people are having across the board voting particularly since the supreme court struck down a big part of the very voting rights act that john lewis gave his blood to get done back in 1965, and one other thing i want to point out is that president obama was understandably, you look at the politics of right now, partisan in that moment. another president, george w. bush, was more subtle, but, boy, was it clear when he said, john, listen, john and i had our disagreements, of course, but the america john lewis fought for and the america i believe in, in differences of opinion are inevitable evidence of democracy in action. very clear what he was saying there. >> yes, it was. former president bush celebrating the diversity of dwee debate in country saying it should be a richness. the current president using it differently as we see. you can see from this moment
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john lewis's allies will use this as a rallying cry to push for registration, push for participation, push against efforts as we see to fight from the president of the united states and others, to fight against mail-in and other voting in the age of covid. john lewis's final words published this morning at his direction saying 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. in my life i have done all i can the way of peace, non-violence is the more ex-leapt wacellent . now it is your turn to let freedom ring. we say good-bye butto echoes of john lewis will be very much of part it. >> as we saw his casket leaving the church and "we shall overcome" was playing in the background, marked this generation of american heroes,
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the end of american heroes like john lewis. and people pointed out and people told me that you cannot separate his fight for voting rights from what he did on the edmund pettus bridge. a lot of people are turned off by this idea you can sort of, in their words, whitewash john lewis's legacy and praise his heroism without praising the thing he was marching for, which was the right of black people to be able to vote in alabama. so it is no surprise that that comes up here, but the question is whether it is a political statement. i think it has become political certainly in these recent years, but one of the speakers pointed out. every renewal of the voting rights act was signed by a republican president, including by george w. bush who was in the audience today. so it is -- it has become a political thing. it does not have to be a political thing. and to hear also president obama
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going there in his speech, this is not new for president obama. it took me back to his eulogy for the reverend after the charleston shooting in which he went there on some of these tough issues. he often uses these eulogies to do that very thing, which is to say, you cannot separate the life of the person from the moment that we are in, that that is what obama was doing in that moment and i think that it was not a mistake that he used some of his toughest language even against the filibuster, john, as you heard him say. he called it a jim crow era rule he wants to see gone. >> we see less of the former president, all ofof the former presidents. particularly president obama, when he does speak he chooses his words deliberately. thank you all for being with us on this special day. honor to be with you the last few hours. a quick break and then brianna
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i'm brianna keilar and welcome viewers here in the u.s. and around the world. on the day that america lays to rest a civil rights icon who made voting rights his life's work, the president of the united states suggests that the presidential election be delayed as he yet again alleges mail-in voting is vulnerable to fraud, a claim with zero basis in reality. we will fact check that in a moment. first, listen to how former president barack obama just addressed this during his eulogy for congressman john lewis. >> there are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting. by closing polling