Former President Barack Obama on Thursday eulogized the late Rep. John Lewis as "a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America" that lies in the nation's future.
The state of play: Obama also called out President Trump — though not by name — by repeatedly referencing Trump's actions to discourage mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Obama said he's talking about it today because Lewis "devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy ... we're seeing circulate right now."
- "The fate of this democracy depends on how we use it. It isn't automatic. It has to be nurtured, it has to be tended to. We have to work at it. It's hard," he added.
- He called for the passage of a new federal voting rights act, renamed in Lewis' honor by Congress, as the proper way to honor the late congressman.
- The former president referred to the filibuster as "another Jim Crow relic." He also specifically said that all Americans should be automatically registered to vote and called for Election Day to become a national holiday.
The big picture: Obama wove Lewis' lifetime of achievements in the civil rights movement throughout his eulogy, highlighting how "his example could challenge centuries of convention and generations of brutal violence and countless daily indignities suffered by African Americans."
- "You know, sometimes, we read about this and we kind of take it for granted. Or at least we act as if it was inevitable. Imagine the courage of two people Malia's age — younger than my oldest daughter. On their own. To challenge an entire infrastructure of oppression."
The bottom line: Obama summarized Lewis as someone who "brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals."
- "And someday when we do finish that long journey towards freedom, when we do form a more perfect union — whether it's years from now or decades or even if it takes another two centuries — John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America."
"What a gift John Lewis was. We are all so lucky to have had him walk with us for a while — and show us the way," Obama concluded.