President Clinton came to the podium after Bush spoke and said he loved John Lewis and always will. He started by saying, “I must say, for a fella that got his start speaking to chickens John’s gotten a pretty finely organized and orchestrated and deeply deserved sendoff this last week.”
Clinton finished his touching words by saying, “If I could just do one thing … what would it be? I said, ‘I would infect every American with whatever it was that John Lewis got as a 4-year-old kid and took through a lifetime to keep moving and keep moving in the right direction and keep bringing other people to move and to do it without hatred in his heart.”
8:44 AM PT — The service started with a touching speech from senior pastor Raphael Warnock and powerful prayer from MLK’s daughter, Bernice King.
Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush sat near the front row as they paid their respect. Bush spoke at the podium after a 12-year-old boy read a poem.
He said, in part, “We will never forget joining [John] in Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of his march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where we got to watch President Barack Obama thank John as one of his heroes.”
Obama, not seen in the audience yet, will deliver the eulogy.
John Lewis is on his way to his final resting place, but not before one more fitting celebration of the Civil Rights icon’s life.
The Congressman’s funeral service is scheduled for Thursday morning at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church … and TMZ will be live-streaming
Barack Obama will reportedly deliver Lewis’ eulogy in the church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to preach. Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clintonare also expected, along with Presidential hopeful, Joe Biden.
President Obama awarded Lewis the Medal of Freedom in 2011, and said during the ceremony … “Generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind.”
The funeral of Rep. Lewis, who represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for 17 terms, is the final farewell in a series of remembrances since his July 17 death from pancreatic cancer.
The tributes began in Troy, Alabama where he was born, and carried on to Selma’s infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge. His body was then flown to D.C. for a memorial in the Capitol rotunda Monday, and finally … his public viewing Wednesday at the Georgia State Capitol, which drew thousands to pay their respects.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms greeted the honor guard as Lewis’ casket arrived.
Noticeably absent from all of the events, has been President Trump. He and the veteran Congressman feuded frequently over policy — and Trump made it clear he would not attend the services.
Rep. Hank Johnson told us Lewis would have been fine with that … but still would’ve prayed for Trump.
To coincide with his funeral, Rep. Lewis sent an essay to The New York Times 2 days before his death to be published today. In his last words, Lewis called for Americans to “answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”
He said he was inspired in his final days by the social justice movement following the killing of George Floyd and others, saying … “You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society.”