Civil rights icon John Lewis' funeral

By Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 4:33 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020
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12:23 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

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

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Pool/AP
Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Pool/AP

Former President George W. Bush honored John Lewis in a speech at his funeral, saying that Lewis' "lesson for us it is that we must all keep ourselves ... open to hearing the call of love, the call of service and a call to sacrifice for others.” 

Bush acknowledged that while they may have disagreed at times, Lewis upheld democracy as one of the most important tenets of America. 

“John and I had our disagreements, of course. But in the America John Lewis fought for and the America I believe in, differences of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action,” Bush said. 

“We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis and his abiding faith in the power of God, in the power of democracy and in the power of love to lift us all to a higher ground. The story that began in Troy isn't ending here today, nor is the work,” he added.  


12:14 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

George W. Bush: Lewis believed "hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope"


Former President George W. Bush started his tribute to the late Rep. John Lewis by recalling the civil rights icon's childhood, on a farm in Alabama.

Bush described how Lewis preached to the chickens, and tended to their every need. The young Lewis once refused to eat one of the flock.

"Going hungry was his first act of non-violent protest," Bush joked.

Bush went on to describe Lewis' character.

"He always thought of others. He always believed in preaching the gospel, in word and in deed, insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope," he said.


12:08 p.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Rev. Bernice King: "Grant us, dear God, a double portion to get into good trouble"

From CNN's Chris Boyette


Rev. Dr. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center and daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered a prayer at the funeral service of Congressman John Lewis.

Lewis' funeral service is taking place at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the historic church where MLK served as a co-pastor.

Read her prayer:

 “Anoint us with a double portion in this generation to get into good trouble until there is radical reform in policing in our nation. Anoint us a double portion to get into good trouble until voter suppression is no longer a part of our body politic. Anoint us with the double portion to get into good trouble until there is an equitable distribution of wealth in this nation, until everyone has a livable wage and affordable housing and good health care. Anoint us, o God, with a double portion to get into good trouble until all labor is treated with dignity. Grant us, o Father, a double portion to get into good trouble until the school-to-prison pipeline is non-existent and every child gets an equitable education. Grant us, dear god, a double portion to get into good trouble until white supremacy around the world is uprooted and dismantled in all of our policies and everyday practices and behaviors no longer reflect white supremacy. Grant us a double portion, God, to get into good trouble until this nation truly becomes a compassionate nation because as daddy reminded us ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. Grant us, God, a double portion of anointing to get into good trouble until Black bodies are no longer a threat in this world and Black lives have equitable representation power and influence in every arena. Grant us, finally, Father God, that a double portion to get into good trouble until love becomes the way we live, the way we lead, the way we legislate and until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream, thank you, o God, for this great man who lived among us who now joins the great cloud of freedom fighters and, Lord, we thank you for his life and his legacy, and we will continue to get into good trouble as long as you grant us the breath to do so.”


11:52 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

John Lewis' 12-year-old friend pays tribute to the late congressman


A 12-year-old boy John Lewis befriended two years ago read the late congressman's favorite poem at his service today.

"This is John Lewis' favorite poem," Tybre Faw said before reading "Invictus."

"John Lewis was my hero and my friend. Let's honor him by getting into good trouble," Faw said after he read the poem.

Faw and Lewis met in Selma, Alabama, in March of 2018. CNN was there covering the annual civil rights pilgrimage that Lewis led when reporters saw Tybre standing outside a church where Lewis was attending a service.

He held a sign that read, "Thank you Rep. John Lewis. You have shown me how to have courage."

Read more about their friendship here.


11:46 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Pastor: Lewis was "wounded for America's transgressions"


Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, evoked Rep. John Lewis' legacy as he opened the late congressman's funeral in Atlanta.

“We're summoned here because in a moment when there are some in high office who are much better at division than vision, who cannot lead us so they speak to divide us, in a moment when there is so much political cynicism and narcissism that masquerades as pate time here lies a true American patriot who risked his life and limb for the hope and the promise of democracy," the pastor said.

Warnock urged attendees and the country to keep "fighting together" and "voting together."

"We celebrate John Lewis. He was wounded for America's transgressions. Bruised for our inequities, and the chastisement of his peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed, so let's remember him today, and let's recommit tomorrow for standing together and fighting together and voting together and standing up on behalf of truth and righteousness together! We'll get through this together," Warnock said.

"Let's save the soul of our democracy together, and let's worship the lord," he added.

Civil rights titan: At age 25, Lewis helped lead a march for voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he and other marchers were met by heavily armed state and local police who attacked them with clubs, fracturing Lewis' skull.

Images from that "Bloody Sunday" shocked the nation and galvanized support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.


11:18 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

John Lewis' funeral service has begun

From CNN's Chris Boyette 


The funeral service for civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis has begun at Ebenezer Baptist Church Horizon Sanctuary in Atlanta.

Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, delivered a “Call to Celebration” and welcome remarks.

"We praise God for John Lewis," Warnock said.

Others expected to speak at the service are Lewis’ nieces, Rev. Dr. Bernice King, former President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Atlanta mayor William Craig Campbell and former President Barack Obama who will deliver the eulogy.

Funeral attendees began arriving around 10 a.m. ET. Many approached the casket and paid their respects.

The morning began with an honor guard transferring the body of the congressman from the Georgia State Capitol where he was lying in state to a hearse. As the vehicle left the capitol, family and friends walked slowly behind waving and a motorcade brought Lewis to the church. 

The service will be followed by Lewis' interment at South-View Cemetery just south of downtown Atlanta. 

11:11 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Church bells across the county ring out to honor John Lewis

Ahead of John Lewis' funeral, church bells across the country rang their bells at 11 a.m. ET to pay tribute to the civil rights icon.

The churches rang their bells for 80 seconds, in honor of the 80 years of Lewis’ life.  

More than 500 churches around the country were expected to be ringing their bells, according to a family spokesperson, including St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC.

Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Atlanta church where Lewis' funeral is being held, does not have a bell. Instead, the church observed an 80-second moment of silence

Watch the moment:

10:57 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

John Lewis’ family is entering the church

From CNN's Chris Boyette


The family of congressman John Lewis is now entering Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

The “celebration of life” funeral service for the civil rights icon will begin at 11 a.m. ET.

Lewis’ funeral will be held this morning at the historic church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. served as a co-pastor from 1960 until his assassination in 1968.

Here's a look inside the church:


10:41 a.m. ET, July 30, 2020

Lewis calls on Americans to "stand up for what you truly believe" in essay published ahead of funeral

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Jeremy Moorhead/CNN
Jeremy Moorhead/CNN

The late Rep. John Lewis called for Americans to "answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe" in an essay published by The New York Times on the day of his funeral.

The late congressman's words were sent to the newspaper two days before his death to be published Thursday, the day of his funeral.

Lewis, a mantle of the civil rights movement, said he was inspired in his last days by social justice reform and activism that has swept the county in the aftermath of police killings of Black Americans.

"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," he wrote. "Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity."

Lewis continued, "Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor," adding he was 15 years old at the time of Till's brutal death.

"I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars," he wrote.

Listen to the essay: