ATLANTA — The late Rep. John Lewis was laid to rest in Atlanta today, in a final farewell to a hero of the Civil Rights Movement and a man who served more than three decades in Congress, coming to be considered its very conscience.
The services were held at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached, with the ceremonies beginning at 11 a.m. A recessional marked the end of ceremonies nearly three-and-a-half hours later at 2:30 p.m.
An interment took place at the South-View Cemetery on Jonesboro Road in Atlanta.
Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, the Ebenezer Baptist pastor officiated as Lewis was laid to rest with military funeral honors, including a three-volley salute and the playing of "Taps."
11Alive carried the funeral live on television and streamed it on YouTube.com/11Alive. You can re-watch it below.
The Civil Rights icon died July 17 after serving the people of the Fifth District for 17 terms. The Georgia Democrat was 80 years old.
Final Farewell to John Lewis
Former President Barack Obama delivered the eulogy. Obama has been know to credit the civil rights icon for helping him become the nation's first Black president.
In 2011, he presented Lewis with a Presidential Medal of Freedom. In a statement posted to Medium.com, Obama said Lewis lived an "exceptional" life.
"But he never believed that what he did was more than any citizen of this country might do. He believed that in all of us, there exists the capacity for great courage, a longing to do what’s right, a willingness to love all people, and to extend to them their God-given rights to dignity and respect," he said.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were also in attendance and spoke at the funeral.
Lewis lied in state at the Georgia State Capitol on Wednesday. Prior to that, he made stops in Alabama and Washington D.C. on his journey back to Atlanta.
In that ceremony on Wednesday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms remembered Lewis as a man who fought for a better America and embodied the spirit of Langston Hughes' poem, "Let America be America Again," which she quoted in her remarks.
The mayor said Lewis, a pillar of the Civil Rights Movement who shed blood for the cause of equality and then served more than three decades as a lawmaker for the nation which drew that blood, embodied the defiant optimism in Hughes' words.
"Although the fight for liberty and equality continues," Bottoms said, "Congressman Lewis reminded us to be hopeful, to be optimistic and to never lose a sense of hope - 'O, let America be America again, the land that never has been yet and yet must be, the land where every man is free.'"
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