tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC July 30, 2020 9:00am-10:00am PDT
i would have it down to my shoulders. on that night, i was almost out of time and people were -- to be president and people were asking me, if you could do one more thing, what would it 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, okay, your time is up, you've 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 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, and 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, 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 loved him. i always will. and i'm so grateful that he stayed true to form. he's leftis wi ius with marchin 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 ] ♪
>> good day. i'm not sure, morning, afternoon, whatever it is, it's an honor to be here with each and every one of you. reverend mark, thank you for enabling us all to be here in the ebenezer baptist church to honor and celebrate the life of john lewis with three presidents of the united states. isn't that exciting? [ applause ] president clinton, president bush, and soon president obama here with us. on behalf of my colleagues, as speaker of the house, i'm pleased to bring greetings to each and every one of you. i'm sad to bring condolences to the family, to john miles, to the entire lewis family.
thank you for sharing john lewis with us. i'm pleased to be here with so many members, 50. we would have had more except coronavirus prevented us. but i hope they will all stand, members of the house of representatives. [ applause ] senators harris and booker who are with us as well. senators harris and booker. among them, mr. hoyer, steny hoyer, mr. clyburn, jim clyburn, and i served with john lewis for over 30 years, for over 30 years. [ applause ] and in our group, we have senior members and we have members of our freshman class. john convinced each one of us that we were his best friend in
congress. and we come with a flag flown over the capitol. the night that john passed. when this flag flew there, it said goodbye. it waved goodbye to john, our friend, our mentor, our colleague. this beautiful man that we all had the privilege of serving with in the congress of the united states. so again, we all bring our condolences to the family and to michael collins and john staff who meant so very much to him. thank you for your service to john lewis. [ applause ]
there are many things we're grateful to the family for, and to the staff for, and we commend them for. but let's acknowledge the stamina they have had to keep up with john even as he passed on, from troy to selma to montgomery to washington, and now to atlanta to be at rest. when john lewis served with us, he wanted us to see the civil rights movement and the rest through his eyes. he told us so many stories. he taught us so much. and he took us to selma for two decades, mr. president, he took us to selma. you referenced 25 years. some of us were there many times including the 50th anniversary where president bush was as well as president obama. and he wanted us to see how important it was, how important
it was to understand the spirit of nonviolence. i hesitate to speak about nonviolence in the presence of the master himself, reverend lawson, who we'll be hearing from shortly. we were together just recently in selma when he and john spoke at church, and he taught the world, really, about nonviolence. but i just want to say this. the word satya graha is a word that in sanskrit means two things. it means nonviolence and it means insistence on the truth. and that is what john lewis was all about. nonviolently insisting on the truth. he insisted on the truth in nashville and selma, in washington, d.c., at the lincoln
memorial. he inside on truth wherever he went. and he insisted on the truth in the congress of the united states. every time he stood up to speak, we knew that he was going to take us to a higher place in our understanding, what our responsibilities were and what our opportunities were. and he insisted, no matter how, shall we say, offended someone might be, that he would insist on the truth. what he said, he said, in my life i have done all i can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence, is the more excellent way. now it is your turn, he says in this article that the president referenced, to let freedom ring. he always talked about truth marching on. he always worked for a more perfect union.
over the fourth of july weekend, i had the privilege of visiting with john. and i brought him this flag pin that i wear, one just like it. why i did so on that fourth of july weekend was because it is engraved with something that says, "one country, one destiny." now, wasn't that what john lewis was all about? one country, one destiny. i mention it because this was sewn, this was embroidered into the lining of abraham lincoln's coat that he had on the night that he left us. i think he had the coat on all the time, but also that night. and john lewis and abraham lincoln had so much in common. john, we got to know him first
and foremost in front of the lincoln memorial when he made that beautiful, beautiful speech. john, lying in state, in the rotunda of the capitol, under the dome of the capitol, on a catafalque, a platform that was made in 1865 to hold the casket of abraham lincoln. [ applause ] abraham lincoln, john lewis. john lewis. so they had lots of connections. and by the way, just incidentally, they were both wonderful and spiritual and saintly, but they were both
politicians. he always was about a more perfect union. and he was always about young people. that's why, mr. president, that article you referenced in "the new york times" today, his message that would be delivered at this time, as he left us, was about young people. he said to them, together you can redeem the world. together, perfect union, together, one nation, one destiny. and he says in the article, answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe in. wasn't that just like john? we were very proud to have his voice in the rotunda, speaking about all that he cared about and believed in, in such a beautiful way, starting in troy. i started my remarks by talking about the flag that waved over the capitol to say goodbye to
john as he began his passage. but what i want you to know, in addition to how revered he is in the congress, so revered that he was a bit mischievoumischievous. you know, when he would say, let's make some good trouble, he always had sort of a twinkle in his eye and a kind of a spark about it all. and my colleagues can tell you that when he cooked up having the sit-in, to get the republican leadership to put the gun violence prevention bill on the floor, when he did that, and all the members followed him, the floor was covered with people, and we thought for a moment that perhaps the police might -- because it was disruptive, good trouble. it was clear to them that if they were to arrest john lewis for doing that, they were going to have to arrest the entire
house democratic caucus. [ applause ] when he spoke, people listened. when he led, people followed. we loved him very much. as his official family, we mourn him greatly. he shared so much, his love for his district, his family, the sadness when lillian was sick, the joy he had in john miles. but as i said, we wave goodbye to this person, our leader, our friend, this, shall we say, humorous -- he loved to dance, he loved to make us laugh, sometimes while he was dancing. he said, my granddaughter bella said to him, did you ever sing in the civil rights movement? he said, they asked me to sing solo one time, solo so that
nobody could hear me. but anyway, getting back to that flag waving fgoodbye to this person we loved officially, personally, in every way, politically too, last night he was at the capitol. it wasn't raining. thousands of people were showing up to pay their respects. a little bit after 8:00, there was a double rainbow. a double rainbow. but it hadn't rained. there was a double rainbow over the casket. and for us, we waved goodbye when he started to leave us, he was telling us, he was telling us, i'm home in heaven. i'm home in heaven with lillian.
molosa, a polish catholic poet, sets the tone at least in part for me, john lewis has journeyed from the eternity of this extraordinary, mysterious human race, into the eternity that none of us know very much about, when he wrote this poem called "meaning." when i die, i will see the lining of the world. the other side. beyond bird, mountain, sunset. the true meaning, ready to be decoded. what never added up will now add up.
what was incomprehensible will become comprehended. and if there is no lining to the world, if a thrush on a branch is not a sign but just a thrush on a branch, if night and day make no sense following each other, and on this earth there is nothing but the earth, even if that is so, there will remain a word, wakened by the lips that perish, a tireless messenger who runs and runs through interstellar places, through
revolving the balangalaxies who and screams. i submit that john in that other eternity will be heard by us again and again, running through the galaxies, still proclaiming that we the people of the usa can one day live up to the full meaning of we hold these truths, live up to the full meaning, we the people of the usa, in order to perfect a more perfect union. john lewis practiced not the politics that we call bipartisan. john lewis practiced the politics that we the people of the u.s. need more desperately than ever before, the politics of the declaration of
independen independence, the politics of the preamble to the constitution of the united states. i have read many of the so-called civil rights books over the last 50 or 60 years about the period between 1953 and 1973. most of the books are wrong about john lewis. most of the books are wrong about how john got engaged in the national campaign in 1959-'60. this is the 60th year of the campaign which swept into every
state of the union, largely manned by students because we recruited students. but put on the map that the nonviolent struggle gun in montgomery, alabama was not an accident, but as martin king jr. called it, christian love has power that we have never tapped and if we use it, we can transform not only our own lives but we will transform the earth in which we live. i count it providential, in nashville came people like andrew white and janetta hayes and helen roberts and dolores wilkerson, and john lewis, and
diane nash, c.t. vivian, marion barry, jim bevel, bernard lafayette, paulina knight, angela butler. how all of us gathered in 1958 and '59 and '60 and '61 and '62 in the same city at the same time, i count as being providential. we did not plan it. and when kelly smith and the national christian leadership council met in the fall of 1958, and we determined that if there is to be a second major campaign that will demonstrate the efficacy of satya graha, of soul force, of love truth, that we
would have to do it in nashville. and so i planned, as the strategist and organizer, a four-point gandhian strategic program to create the campaign. we decided with great fear and anticipation, we would desegregate downtown nashville. no group of black people or other people anywhere in the united states in the 20th industry against the rapatiousness of a segregated system ever thought about desegregating downtown, tearing down the signs, renovating the waiting rooms, taking the immoral signs off of drinking fountains. but it was black women who made that decision for us in
nashville. i was scared to death when we made that decision. i knew nothing about how we were going to do this. i had never done it before. but we planned the strategy. john lewis did not stumble in on that campaign. kelly smith, his teacher at abc, invited john to join the workshops in the fall of 1959 as we prepared ourselves to face violence and to do direct action and to put on the map the issue that the racism and the segregation of the nation had to end. and so on the 60th anniversary of that campaign which became the second major campaign of the
nonviolent movement in america, those are not my words, john lewis called what we did between 1953 and 1973 the nonviolent movement of america. not the crm. i think we need to get the story straight, because words are powerful. history must be written in such a fashion that it lifts up truly the spirit of the john lewises of the world. [ applause ] and that's why i've chosen just to say a few words about it. kelly smith invited john lewis. i met a student who told me about a student from chicago who wanted to do something about those vicious signs.
i said, invite diane nash to the workshop in september because we're going to do something about those signs. i pushed this hard. now, john lewis had no choice in the matter. you should understand that. because all the stories we've heard this morning of john becoming a preacher, preaching to the chickens and other sort of things, becoming ordained as a baptist minister, something else was happening to john in those early years. john saw the malignancy of racism in troy, alabama. there formed in him a
sensibility that he had to do something about it. he did not know what that was, but he was convinced that he was called indeed to do whatever he could do, get in good trouble but stop the more ro horror thay folk lived through in that part of the 20th century. john was not alone. martin king had the same experience as a boy. i had the same experience at the age of 4 in the streets of ohio. matthew mccullough, a pastor whose name you don't know in south carolina, had the same experience. c.t. vivian had the same
experience. i maintain that many of us had no choice to do what we try to do primarily because at an early age, we recognized the wrong under which we were forced to live and we swore to god that by god's grace, we would do whatever god called us to do in order to put on the table of the nation's agenda. this must end. black lives matter. [ applause ] and so between 1953 and 1973, we had major campaigns, year after year. thousands of demonstrations across the nation that supported it. we had folk in the congress, folk in the white house, folks
scattered across the united states who were beginning to formulate what the solutions are for change. the media makes a mistake when john is seen only in relationship to the voting rights bill of '65. however important that is, you must not remember that in the '60s, lyndon johnson and the congress of the united states passed the most advanced legislation on behalf of we the people of the united states that was ever passed. head start. billions of dollars for housing. we would not be in the struggle we are today if president reagan hadn't cut that billions of dollars for housing. where local churches and local nonprofits could build affordable housing in their own communities, being sustained and financed by loans from the
federal government. we passed medicare. we passed antipoverty programs. civil rights bill 64, 65, voting rights bills. a whole array. john lewis must be understood as one of the leaders of the greatest advance of congress and the white house on behalf of we, the people of the usa. [ applause ] we do not need bipartisanship 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 unfalteringly 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 this service today, let all the people of the usa determine 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 are 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.
[ applause ] 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 poisons still dominate far too many of us in many different ways.
john's life was a singular journey from birth through the campaigns in the south, 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' life, let us then recommit our souls, our minds, our hearts, our bodies, our strength, to the continuing journey to dismantle the wrong in our midst and to
allow a space for the new earth and new heaven to emerge. i close with this poem from langston hughes which is a kind of 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 is scorned, where love will bless the earth and peace its paths adorn.
i dream a dream where all will know sweet freedom's way, where agreed 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 and boy and girl is free, where wretchedness hangs its head and joy, like a pearl, attends the need of all humankind. of such a world i dream.
celebrate life. dream and labor for an atlanta and los angeles and 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, and the beloved community for all. thank you. [ applause ]
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. [ applause ] ♪
>> 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? [ applause ] 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 atlanta on the same day she came to work at the university, atlanta university, and i came to work for martin luther king jr. and the southern christian leadership conference. and that's when i met john. i saw him all the time. we were all involved in the same quest for equity and justice in this america. 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 i looked around and decided that i liked 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 decided, 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 for friends, you have to help them out. and so john had to go to the hospital for an examination. and i said, oh, lillian, this
would be a good moment for us to be florence nightnightingale. so we went to the grocery store and bought a little bunch of flowers. he was being a little slow too. so i said, go to the hospital, that will impress him, he will notice you more because you're bringing him flowers while he's in the hospital. when we got in the hospital, and there was a young woman already there, and she was straightening out his pillow and adjusting his comfort. and then lillian said, oh, shoot, but i had 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 just 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 i said, well, i'll have a dinner party and invite the two of them and maybe they'll give us a chance. 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 party. when they got to my house, there was only room for three of us. the two of them and me. and so now we are discussing the wiles of the world and i'm hoping now they can 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 think, well, i'm ahead of the game now. it's new year's eve and i've got him. 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, okay, i'm ready now. i set a date, got a dress ready and we're going to have a wedding. and so -- and i'm not really sure -- i asked john not too long ago, did we ever ask you, would you take her? i don't think i ever got much opportunity to propose. we just had a wedding. [ applause ] and so now, it looks like things are going to be okay. so we had a big wedding. i did all the planning because william was still slow and i did all the planning and all the
family came so we had a big wedding. now things were doing okay and she said, you know, but i don't like the idea that girl looks like she had 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, she won't 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 is well traveled, well educated but she absolutely didn't like politics. sorry, 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 the cutest little boy. and then she said they gave me the honor of being his godmother. and i said, oh, that's nice. i've heard of godmothers. 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've got to feed him? because john miles could eat as a kid. i said, have to feed him every day? yes. and when he acts up. well, i agreed to that. but john miles, do you mind? just stand up, john miles. stand up.
that's john miles now. [ applause ] now wait a minute. take a good look at john miles. i'm 4'11" and almost 90 years old. and there he is. and i'm supposed to spank him when he doesn't do right. when i walk up to john miles to give him a spanking, i've got to get permission from him. can i spank you? because he's pretty big now. but i loved 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. okay.
but lillian and john stayed married. i 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 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 and i were courting, every time we'd go out on a date, my mother said, okay, have a good time but don't get in no 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 in trouble. find a way to right the wrongs of our society. and he did a pretty decent job
of that. [ applause ] 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 because 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. it's your choice. the man you are seeing on television decided that his life was going to have a quality 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 praises. don't forget 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
>> to john-miles. president obama. speaker pelosi. madam mayor. romans 8:18 tells us, for i consider the sufferings of the present time to not be worthy of the glory which shall be revealed to us. when i met john lewis over 40 years ago, our lives intersected because in 1960, he came to my hometown, raleigh, north carolina. to form sncc at a small black college where my father, who was president of the naacp led nightly civil rights