Former President Bill Clinton is one of those who turned out to the Atlanta funeral of the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis on Thursday, and he delivered remarks in honor of the late civil rights leader that got a standing ovation from the crowd when he was complete. Clinton’s remarks contrast strikingly with President Donald Trump’s own behavior — although he’s the sitting president, Trump neither visited the Capitol to pay his respects while Lewis was recently lying in state nor attended Lewis’s funeral on Thursday. Clinton, in contrast, insisted that Americans must “march on” in the spirit of Lewis’s own lifetime of activism.
Lewis was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement, and his activism included high-profile moments ranging from his participation in the Freedom Rides across the south to his speech at the March on Washington in 1963, which is the same event where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Lewis also, among other things, was among the activists on a bridge in Alabama in 1965 when racist authorities launched a violent attack in an incident that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”
In his remarks, Clinton said:
‘John Lewis was… a friend and a sunshine in a storm, a friend who would walk the stony roads that he asked you to walk, that would brave the chastening rods that he asked you to be whipped by, always keeping his eyes on the prize, always believing none of us will be free until all of us are equal… He’s gone up yonder and left us with marching orders. I suggest — since he’s close enough to God to keep his eye on the sparrow and us — we salute, suit up and march on.’
Watch the concluding minutes of Clinton’s remarks below:
In stirring conclusion to his eulogy, Pres. Bill Clinton honors John Lewis.
"He's gone up yonder and left us with marching orders. I suggest—since he's close enough to God to keep his eye on the sparrow and us—we salute, suit up and march on." https://t.co/sVteeuYRLu pic.twitter.com/Ahe3SJWWGx
— ABC News (@ABC) July 30, 2020
While Lewis was still with us, Trump’s remarks about the leader included a claim that he was “all talk… no action,” which could not be further from the truth. Lewis spent his life fighting for the rights of Americans who those in power might like to forget. Trump has done no such thing.