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tv   Former Presidents George W. Bush Bill Clinton at Rep. John Lewis Funeral...  CSPAN  July 31, 2020 5:53am-6:18am EDT

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for their testimony, their engagement, an opportunity to perhaps follow up on you. please be advised that members have two weeks to submit written questions to be answered later in writing, if you would be willing. the questions and your answers will be made part of the formal hearing record. with that, the sub committee stands adjourned. thank you very much. ontoday at 9:00 eastern c-span two niaid director dr. dr.,ny fauci, cdc director and assistant secretary for aalth at hhs, an admiral, on national comprehensive plan on the coronavirus pandemic. watch live hearing coverage today on c-span2, live streaming and on-demand viewing at, or listen on the go with the free c-span radio app.
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funeral service was held in atlanta georgia for the late congressman john lewis. president bill clinton, george w. bush, and barack obama were in attendance and spoke about john lewis and his legacy as a lawmaker and a civil rights icon. >> john's story began on the tiny farm in troy, alabama, a
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place so small he said you could barely find it on the map. chickens.about the i did a little research. rise morning, he would before the sun to tend to the flock of chickens. he loved those chickens. attended tom and their every need. even their spiritual ones. john ties, married, and preached to them. [laughter] claimed one for family supper, john refused to each one of his flock. going hungry was his first act of nonviolent protest. [laughter] he also noted in later years that his first congregation of chickens listened to him more
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closely than some of his colleagues in congress. [laughter] thought chickens were little more productive. at least they produced eggs. [laughter] citizens in the nashville to the freedom march on washington, from freedom summer to selma, john lewis always lived outward, not inward. he always thought of others. he always believed in preaching the gospel in word and indeed, insisting hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope. lord.ewis believed in the he believed in humanity, and in america. he had been called an american saint, a believer willing to give up everything, even life
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itself, to bear witness to the truth that drove him all of his life, that we could build a world of peace, justice, harmony, dignity, and love. and the first crucial step on the journey was the recognition that all people are born in the image of god and carry a spark of the divine within them. lauren and i were privileged to see that spark in john a close. we worked with him to bring the national museum of african-american history and culture to the washington mall. he was instrumental in the emmett until unsolved civil -- emmett until -- till unsolved civil rights crimes act, which i signed to seek resolution in cases where justice had been too long denied. and we will never forget joining him in selma, alabama for the 50th anniversary of his march across the edmund pettus bridge, thank john as one of his heroes.
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-- pettus bridge, where we got to watch president barack obama thank john as one of his heroes. [applause] there's a story in the old scriptures that meant a lot to john. in the hebrew bible, the lord is looking for a prophet, whom shall i send, god wonders, and who will go for us? isiah answers, here am i. send me. john lewis heard that call a long time ago in segregated alabama. and he took up the work of the lord through all his days. his lesson for us is that we must all keep ourselves open to hearing the call of love. the call of service. and the call to sacrifice for others. listen, john and i had our disagreements, of course. but in the america john lewis
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fought for and the america i believe in, differences of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action. [applause] we the people, including congressmen and presidents, have can differing views on how to protect our union, while sharing the conviction that our nation, however flawed, is at heart a good and noble one. 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.
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nor is the work. john lewis lives forever in his father's house and he will live forever in the hearts of americans who act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with their god. may the flights of angels see john lewis to his rest and may god bless the country he loved. [applause] ♪
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[applause] pres. clinton: thank you very much. first, i thank john-miles and the lewis family and john's incomparable staff for the chance to say a few words about a man i loved for a long time. i am grateful for pastor warnock to say it in ebenezer. a holy place, sanctified by both the faith and the works of those who have worshiped here.
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i thank my friend, reverend bernice king, who stood by my side, and gave a fascinating sermon in one of the most challenging periods of my life. i thank president and mrs. bush, president obama. speaker pelosi, thank you, and representative hoyer and representative clyburn, who i really thank for, with the stroke of a hand, ending an interfamily fight within our party. proving that peace is needed by everyone. matta mayor, thank you. you have faced more than a fair share of challenges in these
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madam mayor,or -- thank you. you have faced more than a fair share of challenges in these last few months. and you have faced them with candor, dignity, and honor. and i thank you for your leadership. [applause] i must say, for a fellow who got his start speaking to chickens, john's gotten a pretty finely organized, and orchestrated, and deeply deserved sendoff this last week. his home-going has been something to behold. [applause] i think it's important that all of us who loved him remember that he was, after all, a human being.
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a man, like all other humans, born with strength that he made the most of when many don't. born with weaknesses that he worked hard to beat down when many can't. but still a person. it made him more interesting, and it made him, in my mind, even greater. 20 years ago, we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the selma march, and we walked together, along with coretta. -- with coretta and many others from the movement who are no longer with us. we are grateful for andy young and reverend jackson and diane nash and many others who
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survive. but, on that day, i got him to replay for me a story he told me when we first met, back in the 1970's. and i said, you know, i was just an aspiring whatever, southern politician. i hadn't been elected governor. and he was already a legend. so i said, john, what's the closest you ever came to getting killed doing this? and he said, well once, we were at a demonstration, and i got knocked down on the ground, and people were getting beat up pretty bad, and all of a sudden, i looked up and there was a man holding a long, heavy piece of pipe, and he lifted it, and was clearly going to bring it right down into my skull.
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and at the very last second, i turned my neck away, and then the crowd pushed him a little bit. a couple seconds later, i couldn't believe i was still alive. i think it's important to remember that. first, because he was a quick thinker. and secondly, because he was here on a mission that was bigger than personal ambition. things like that sometimes just happen, but usually they don't. i think three things happened to john lewis long before we met and became friends that made him who he was. first, the famous story of john at four with his cousins and siblings, holding his aunt's
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hand, more than a dozen of them running around a little old wooden house as the wind threatened to blow the house off its moorings. going to the place where the house was rising, and all those tiny bodies trying to weigh it down. i think you learn something about the power of working together, something that was more powerful than any instruction. second, nearly 20 years later, when he was 23, the youngest speaker and the last speaker at the march on washington, when he gave a great speech urging people to take to the streets across the south, to seize the chance to finally end racism. and he listened to people that
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he knew had the same goal say, "well, we have to be careful how we say this because we're trying to get converts. not more adversaries." just three years later, he lost the leadership of sncc to stokely carmichael. because, he said, you know, i would really -- i think it was a pretty good job for a guy that young to come from troy, alabama. it must have been painful to lose. but he showed as a young man there's some things that you cannot do to hang on to a position, because if you do them, you won't be who you are anymore. and i say, there were two or three years there where the movement went a little bit too far toward stokely.
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but, in the end, john lewis prevailed. we are here today because he had the kind of character he showed when he lost an election. [applause] then, there was bloody sunday. he figured he might get arrested. and this is really important. for all the things we believe about john lewis, he had a really good mind, and he was always trying to figure out, how can i make the most of every single moment? so he's getting ready to march from selma to montgomery, he wants to get across the bridge. what do we remember?
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he made -- cut quite a strange figure. he had a trench coat and a backpack. [laughter] now, young people probably think that's no big deal, but there weren't that many backpacks back then, and you never saw anybody in a trench coat looking halfway dressed up with a backpack. but john put an apple, an orange, a tooth brush, toothpaste in the backpack. to take care of his body, because he figured he would get arrested. and two books, one a book by richard hofstadter on america's political tradition, to feed his mind, and one, the auto biography of thomas merton. a roman catholic trappist monk who was the son of artists, making an astonishing personal transformation.
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what's a young guy who is about to get his brains beat out and planning going to prison doing taking that? i think he figured, if thomas merton could find his way and keep his faith and believe in the future, he, john lewis, could too. [applause] so we honor our friend for his faith and for living his faith. which the scripture says is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. john lewis was a walking rebuke to people who thought, "well, we
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ain't there yet. we've been working a long time. isn't it time to bag it? 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. and he lost that backpack on bloody sunday. nobody really knows what happened to it. maybe someday, someone will be stricken with conscience and give some of it back. but what it represented never disappeared from john lewis' spirit. we honor that memory today because, as a child, he learned to walk with the wind, to march with others to save a tiny house. because as a young man, he challenged others to join him, with love and dignity, to hold
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america's house down and open the doors of america to all its people. we honor him because, in selma, on the third attempt, john and his comrades showed that sometimes you have to walk into the wind along with with it. as he crossed the bridge and marched into montgomery. but 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 the open hand was better than the clenched fist.
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he lived by the faith and promise of st. paul. "let us not grow weary in doing good. for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart." he never lost heart. he fought the good fight. he kept the faith. but we got our last letter today, on the pages of the "new york times." keep moving. it is so fitting, on the day of his service, he leaves us our marching orders, keep moving. 20 years ago, when i came here after the selma march to a big dinner honoring john and lillian and john-miles, you had a big afro. [laughter] and it was really pretty.
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and your daddy was giving you grief about it, and i said, john, let's don't get old too soon. i mean, if i had hair like that, i'd have it down on my shoulders. [laughter] but on that night, i was almost out of time to be president, and people were asking me, well, if you could do one more thing, what it would be? or what do you wish you had done that you didn't, and all that kind of stuff. and someone asked me that night, because i had many friends in atlanta, and i said, if i could just do one thing, if god came to me tonight and said, "ok, your time's up, got to go home, and i'm not a genie, i'm not giving you three wishes, one thing, what would it be?" i said, i would infect every
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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. with a song, to be able to sing and dance. as john's brother, freddie, said in troy, "keep moving to the ballot box, even if it's a mailbox." and keep moving to the beloved community. john lewis was many things. but he was a man. a friend in sunshine and storm. a friend who would walk the stoney roads that he asked you to walk.
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that would brave the chastening rods 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. i just love that. i always will. and i'm so grateful that he stayed true to form. 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. [applause] ♪


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