Jul 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bill Clinton: John Lewis was a "walking rebuke" to those who wanted to give up

Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Rep. John Lewis' funeral on Thursday, recounting the congressman's civil rights legacy and describing him as a "walking rebuke" to those who wanted to give up in the fight for equal justice.

The big picture: Former Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are all speaking at Lewis' socially-distant service in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as a co-pastor.

What he's saying: "John Lewis was a walking rebuke to people who thought, well, we ain't there yet and we have been working a long time. Isn't it time to bag it? He kept moving. He hoped for and imagined and lived and worked and moved for his beloved community. He took a savage beating on more than one day," Clinton said.

  • "No matter what, John always kept walking to reach the beloved community. He got into a lot of good trouble along the way, but let's not forget he also developed an absolutely uncanny ability to heal troubled waters."
  • "When he could have been angry and determined to cancel his adversaries, he tried to get converts instead. He thought that the open hand was better than the clenched fist."

The bottom line: "We got our last letter today on the pages of the New York Times," Clinton said, referencing a posthumous op-ed published Thursday. "Keep moving. It is so fitting on the day of his service he leaves us our marching orders. Keep moving."

Go deeper ... George W. Bush: "We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis"

Go deeper