On Thursday, mourners honored the icon for civil rights and the ancient Rev. John Lewis in Atlanta. At his funeral, Black US President Barack Obama praised both of them to pay tribute to one of the greatest leaders of the American civil rights movement and called for concrete action to continue this legacy. This is likely to be one of Obama’s greatest speeches, and it is worth watching in full.
In a speech that nearly surprised with his outspoken call to politics, Obama compared the brutal violence of 1965 that nearly ended Lewis’ life – police broke his skull on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama – to the brutal suppression of peaceful protests by federal authorities today. officials called for a 2013 Supreme Court ruling on the gut law on voter rights and the wave of voter suppression that followed the “attack on what Ivan was fighting for”, challenged hypocritical congressional leaders who opposed the resumption of the law, which [Lewis] wanted to die “, making empty statements, calling him a” hero “, calling for an end to the imprisonment of previously convicted people, calling for Election Day a national holiday, calling for the statehood of the DC and Puerto Rico, and calling for the removal of Filibuster, another relic of Jim Crow to ensure the God-given rights of every American. “
The support for the political speech came after a powerful retelling of some important moments in Lewis’s life and career, a story that laid the foundation for Obama’s call to action. It seemed clear that Obama was devastated by the death of a man he called a mentor.
“It is a great honor for me to return to Ebenezer Baptist Church in the pulpit of its greatest pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to pay my respects to perhaps his best student,” Obama said at the beginning of his remark, his voice almost breaking.
“I came here today because, like so many Americans, I owe a great debt to John Lewis and his strong vision of freedom,” Obama continued.
Obama then described Lewis’s rise from a place of “modest means” in rural Troy, Alabama, where he, as a boy, overheard his father’s discussions with friends about the murderous violence of the local Ku Klux Klan. As Obama described, when he heard King talk on the radio, Lewis became one of the biggest supporters of the nonviolent resistance the country had ever seen.
He helped organize the Nashville Campaign in 1960. He and other young men and women sat behind a separate dining counter, well-dressed, straight-backed, refusing to drop a milkshake on their head, or put out a cigarette on their backs, or with their feet pointed at them. ribs – to give up allowing it dignity and a sense of purpose, “Obama said. “And a few months later, the Nashville campaign achieved the first successful degregation of public facilities in any major city in the South. John first, second, third, well, tasted prison several times. But he also tasted victory, and it consumed him for a just cause, and he took the battle deeper into the South. ” Obama then described Lewis’ work on desegregating buses in the South, “months before the first official freedom ride.”
But Obama’s story was not simply a powerful account of the life of the icon and founding member of the most democratic stage of American democracy – it linked Lewis’s work in the 1960s to America’s modern struggle against authoritarianism and voter suppression.
“Sometimes we read about it and take it for granted, or at least act as if it were inevitable. Imagine the courage of two people Age of Malia, younger than my eldest daughter, to challenge the whole infrastructure of oppression on their own, ”he said. “John was only 20 years old, but all 20 years he pushed him to the center of the table, acquiring all that his example could challenge centuries of conventions and generations of brutal violence and countless daily ugliness suffered by African Americans.”
Finally, Obama has called for a powerful and direct political attack on modern police brutality against blacks and voters and efforts to quell the protest.
“Bull Connor – the infamous Birmingham, Alabama, a police officer who turned dogs and fire hoses on civil rights protesters -” may no longer exist, but today we are witnessing police kneeling on black necks Americans, “Obama said, alluding to the assassination of George Floyd. “George Wallace may no longer be there, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful protesters,” he added, referring to the Trump administration – ordering attacks on protesters in Lafayette Square. District of Columbia and Portland, Oregon.
Obama concluded by urging America to honor the late Congressman by passing John Lewis’s new Voting Rights Act and other voice protection measures, and by suspending the “Jim Crowe relic” from the filibuster if necessary to pass it.
Obama was one of the best funerals of the American president – a tribute to the life of Lewis and a specific, acceptable request to protect the rights for which he and many others fought and participated. History will determine whether his call – and Lewis’s – was heard in the United States.
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