Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Civil Rights Icon John Lewis' Funeral. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired July 30, 2020 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REV. JAMES LAWSON JR., ACTIVIST AND TEACHER IN NONVIOLENT ACTION: A whole array, John Lewis, must be represent - must be understood as one of the leaders of the greatest advance of Congress in the White House on behalf of we, the people of the USA.
We do not need bipartisan products if we're going to celebrate the life of John Lewis. We need the constitution to come alive. We hold these truths to be self evident. We need the Congress and the presidents to work unfaltering on behalf of every boy and every girl, so that every baby born on these shores will have access to the tree of life. That's the only way to honor John Robert Lewis. No other way.
Let all of us in the service today that all the people of the USA determined that we will not be quiet as long as any child dies in the first year of life in the United States. We will not be quiet, as long as the largest poverty group in our nation, our women and children. We will not be quiet, as long as our nation continues to be the most violent culture in the history of humankind.
We will not be quiet, as long as our economy is shaped not by freedom but by plantation capitalism that continues to cause domination and control, rather than access and liberty and equality for all. The forces of spiritual wickedness are strong in our land because of our history. We have not created them. John Lewis did not create them. We inherited them.
But it's our task to see those spiritual forces. I've named them racism, sexism, violence, plantation, capitalism. Those poison the still dominate far too many of us in many different ways. John's life was a singular journey from birth through the campaigns in South and through Congress to get us to see that these forces of wickedness must be resisted.
Do not let our own hearts drink any of that poison. Instead, drink the truth of the life force. If we would honor and celebrate John Lewis's life, let us then recommit our souls, our minds, our hearts, our bodies, our strength, to the continuing journey to dismantle the wrong inner myths and to allow a space for the new earth, a new heaven to emerge.
I close with this poem from Langston Hughes, which is a kind of a sign and symbol of what John Lewis represents, and what we too can represent in our continuing journey. Langston Hughes, I dream a world where no human, no other human will scorn, where love will bless the earth and peace its paths adorn.
I dream a dream where all will know sweet freedoms way, where greed no longer saps the soul nor avarice blights our day. A world I dream where black and white and yellow and blue and green and red and brown, whatever your race may be, will share the bounties of the earth.
And every woman and man, boy and girl is free. Wherever wretchedness hangs its head and joy, like a pearl attends the need of all humankind of such a world I dream to celebrate life, dream, and labor for an Atlanta and Los Angeles and in the United States and a world.
That is to celebrate the spirit and the heart and the mind and soul of John Lewis and to walk with him through the galaxies, seeking equality, liberty, justice in the beloved community for all. Thank you.
REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: Three living presidents with us today, we have heard from yet another, to the friends and family of Congressman John Lewis. Rosalynn joins me in sending our condolences to all gathered today to mourn the loss of one of our nation's great leaders.
Throughout his remarkable life, John, has been a blessing to countless people. And we are proud to be among those whose lives he has touched. While his achievements are enjoyed by all Americans, we Georgians know him as our neighbor, friend, and representative.
His enormous contributions will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come. Please know that you are in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time. We hope your warm memories and the love and prayers of your family and friends will be of comfort to you in the days ahead, sincerely, Jimmy Carter.
XERNONA CLAYTON, CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER AND FOUNDER OF TRUMPET AWARDS FOUNDATION: I want to first call attention to the excellent job the media has done to inform us of John Lewis. Hasn't the media been tremendous in keeping us informed? I've never seen such coverage. But John deserved it.
But I want to talk a moment in my presentation on John before he became famous. I met John, I came to Atlanta, Lillian Miles and I came to land on the same day. She came to work at the university, Atlanta University. And I came to work for Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. And that's when I met John.
So I'm all the time we were all involved in the same quest for equity and justice in this American. And I got a chance to see him all the time. And I admired his fervor and all of his tenacity, and Lillian was single. And so I decided that Lillian needed a good man. Not just the bums, who were approaching her. She was highly intellectual, well traveled, well educated.
And I wanted her to have someone who really would appreciate her skills and her talent. So looked around and decided that, I like John. But Lillian didn't like John particularly. And so she thought he was kind of slow. And I said, but Lillian, he's busy. He's fighting the evils of the world.
And she said, yes, but, well, I just said it, girl, listen, this boy is going places. So let's see what he can do to get this thing moving. So we decided what I did as her friend, and that's what you do with friends, you have to help them out.
And so John had to go to the hospital for accurate examination. And I said, oh, Lillian, this would be a good moment for us to be flowers nightingale. So we went to the grocery store and bought a little bunch of flowers. And took the hospital, I said you'll be impressed, because he was a little slow too.
And I said, we'll go to the hospital. And that would just impress him that he will notice you more, because you bring him flowers while he's in the hospital. What we got in the hospital, and that was a young woman already there and she was spreading out his pillow and adjusting his comfort, and then low instead, oh, shoot.
Well, I said, but I've already asked John. John, do you have a young woman who you are especially interested in? And he said, well, not really. And I said, that's not the answer I'm looking for. I want a more definitive answer because I got some things in mind. Well, you know, John was a slow about, well, not really.
Well, I decided on New Year's Eve. Lillian was single, as I said, and didn't have any plans. So I said, well, I'll have a dinner party, invite the two of them. And maybe they'll give us a chance. Well, I was known as the one who gave big parties. So Lillian thought I was going to have a big party. John thought I was having a big part. When they got to my house, there was only room for three of us, the two of them and me.
And so now we're discussing the wilds of the world. And I'm hoping now that they're going to get a little closer and closer. Well, because and when John didn't have a date on New Year's Eve, I knew he didn't have a commitment. Everybody has a date on New Year's Eve with somebody somewhere.
So I figured, well, I'm ahead of the game now, it's New Year's Eve. And here I've gotten. And then things start happening and still slowly not fast enough for me but I was patient. And finally, Lillian said, I do like him. I said, OK, I'm ready now. I said date, got a dress, ready? And we're going to have a wedding.
And so, and I'm not really sure is John not too long ago, did we ever ask you, would you check her? I don't think I ever got that much opportunity to propose. We just had a wedding. And so now it looks like things will going to be OK. So we had big wedding. I did all the planning because Lillian was still slow.
And I did all the planning. I had the big wedding. All family came, so we had a wedding. Now, things were doing OK. As she said, you know, but I don't like the idea that girl looks like she had, you know, some designs on. John, I said, honey, don't run away from competition. We can handle competition. We'll get rid of that girl so fast. You all know what happened to her. And we did. And they got married.
Well, I want you to know they were very happy. But when she found out, now Lillian as I said, well traveled, well educated, but she absolutely didn't like politics or people. She didn't like politics. But when John expressed an interest, Lillian got in there and became his strongest supporter. I mean, she did everything, everything to make his successes work for him. And they did.
Well then, John Miles came along. And he was a cutest little boy. And then she said, they gave me the honor of being his godmother. And I said, oh, that's nice. And I've heard of godmother. But what does godmother do? What am I supposed to do? And she said, well, if something happens to me and John, we want you to take care of him.
I said, we got to feed him? Because John Miles because eat as a kid. And I said, feed him every day? He said, yes. And then spank him when he accept. Well, I agree to that. But John Miles, do you mind just stand up John Miles, stand up. There's John Miles now.
Now, wait a minute. Take a good look at John Miles. I'm 4 feet, 11. And almost 80, I'm almost 90 years old. And there he is. And I was supposed to spank him when he doesn't do right. Now when I walk up to John Miles to give him a spanking, I got to get permission from him. Can I spank you because he's pretty big now. But I love John Miles then. And I love John Miles now. And I will take care of you and spank you, whether you like it or not. OK.
But Lillian and John stayed marriage, I'll put it together, but it lasted 43 years. That's not a bad record is it? They were happy. And Lillian gave him every support a wife could ever give a partner. And they gave love to John Miles in the process.
John was an unusual individual. Ambassador Young is sitting over here. And we all loved him all the time. His sincerity was apparent. He worked hard. And he said that he wasn't going to stop. And I don't need to tell you anything about John, all of you knew him.
All of you know his fervor. And his commitment to equity and the love he had for everybody. And I want us to look at the John we thought we knew, the John who convinced us we knew the real man because he was constant. But I asked him one time, John, what in the world is bad trouble?
I said when I was a young girl, my sister now we were recording every time we go out on the date. My mother said, OK, have a good time but don't get any trouble. Well, we didn't know nothing else except trouble was not good. But John said, the good trouble is when your mother says don't get any trouble, find a way to right the wrongs of our society. And he did a pretty decent job of that.
And during this week, John was on television all day every day. And I love young people. And I had an opportunity when people know that I like young people. So I was invited to speak to a group of kids. And I said to them, as you're watching television I want you to know that's not a public relations program you're watching. That's a story of a man who lived the life they're talking about.
John made a decision on the kind of life he was going to live. And I said to those young people that, you have the responsibility of making your life have the meaning you want it to be. You can either decide to be the bank robber or the bank owner is your choice. The man you're seeing on television decided that his life was going to have equality to it.
Do as much as you can, as long as you can, as often as you can because that's what John Lewis did. We won't forget John. But I would want to tell you don't sit here and listen to these phrases, don't forget of what you read in the newspapers how wonderful he was. Do something about the man, he asked us to be in ourselves. And that is be kind to everybody, love everybody, speak up and speak out. I don't need to tell you that you know what he said.
But what you can do and I want to advise you and admonish you to really give meaning to the John we love, vote. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning Sir.