July 30, 2020

As soon as President Barack Obama began to speak at John Lewis' memorial today, I was thrust back to a time where our president spoke with passion and to the entire country in an effort to unite or inform, rather than inflame and divide. It was, for that 30 minutes, a lovely tribute not only to Rep. Lewis, but to the country I thought we were just a few years ago.

But Obama has learned something from Rep. Lewis too, and in this clip, it's obvious. No longer worried about offending the bigots, he straight up called out events today and likened them to the events which drove John Lewis to stand and fight for civil rights all of his lifetime.

He called out the voter suppression, the stormtroopers, and the police brutality, calling on each one of us to stand up and fight, just like John Lewis did.

I miss a president who calls us to do better instead of hate better. I miss a president who can put words together and make sense. But his message is clear. All of us have to fight for this country.

Here's a rough transcript.

He believed in us even when we didn't believe in ourselves. And as a congressman, he didn't rest. He kept getting himself arrested. As an old man, he didn't sit out any fight. Sat in all night long in the floor of the united states capitol. I know his staff was stressed.

But the testing of his faith produced perseverance. He knew that the march is not over. That the race is not yet won. That we have not yet reached that blessed destination. Where we are judged by the content of our character. He knew from his own life that progress is fragile.

That we have to be vigilant against the darker currents of this country's history. Of our own history. Where there are whirlpools of violence and hatred and despair that can always rise again.

Today we witness with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans. George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. [ applause ]

We may no longer have to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar to cast a ballot but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the runup to an election. It's going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don't get sick.

I know this is a celebration of John's life. There are some who might say we shouldn't dwell on such things. But that's why I'm talking about it. John Lewis devoted his time on this earth fighting the very attacks on democracy and what's best in America that we're seeing circulate right now.

He knew that every single one of us has a god-given power and that the faith of this democracy depends on how we use it. That democracy isn't automatic. It has to be nurturing. Has to be tended to. We have to work at it. It's hard. And so he knew that it depends on whether we summon a measure, just a measure of John's moral courage to question what's right and what's wrong. And call things as they are. He said as long as he had a breath in his body, he would do everything he could to preserve this democracy and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we had to continue his cause. 

And here is the full eulogy:

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