By JEFF MARTIN
ATLANTA (AP) — John Lewis was celebrated as an American hero during his funeral Thursday as former President Barack Obama and others called on people to follow Lewis’ example and fight injustice.
Three former presidents joined in the eulogies at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church after nearly a week of mourning that took the civil rights icon from his birthplace in Alabama to the nation’s capital of Washington to his final resting place in his home of Atlanta.
Lewis was “a man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance,” Obama said during a fiery speech in which he hearkened back to Lewis’ legacy and connected it to the ongoing fight against those who are “doing their darndest to discourage people from voting.”
“He as much as anyone in our history brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals,” Obama said. “And some day when we do finish that long journey towards freedom, when we do form a more perfect union, whether it’s years from now or decades or even if it takes another two centuries, John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.”
Former President George W. Bush said Lewis preached the Gospel and lived its ideals, “insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope.” Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80.