It was some good trouble from Troy, Alabama.
Former President Barack Obama, eulogizing the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, acknowledged the gay community’s role in this summer’s protests.
“We see it outside our windows in big cities and rural towns, in men and women, young and old, straight Americans and LGBTQ Americans, Blacks who long for equal treatment and Whites who can no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjection of their fellow Americans,” Obama said.
The 44th President said Lewis’ lesson was to be “better, truer versions of ourselves.”
Lewis died on July 17 from pancreatic cancer.
He was 80.
Equality Florida spokesman Brandon Wolf met Lewis at the site of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. The meeting between the two activists came not long after the horrific 2016 massacre of 49 people.
Wolf wrote about their encounter for Newsweek, revealing “As we made our way back to the car, he grabbed my arm and uttered, ‘we can never stop fighting.’”
Lewis was a civil rights leader and disciple of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He assisted in organizing the 1963 March on Washington and was often arrested at demonstrations, hence the references to “good trouble.”
Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton joined Obama at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to remember the feisty Lewis, who served 17 terms in Congress.
Bush said hate must be answered with love and hope. Clinton described Lewis as someone who always kept walking to reach the “beloved community.”
President Trump did not attend the service. He said Lewis was not a friend.
Trump is trailing in most general election polls.
Democrats gather in the coming weeks to nominate their candidates. Joe Biden, Obama’s vice president, is the party’s presumptive nominee.
Biden is expected to announce his vice presidential selection ahead of the Democratic National Convention hosted by Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Aug. 17-20. The Biden campaign has committed to choosing a woman for vice president.
Democrats have blasted Trump for many things, but the President’s recent attempts to undermine elections have raised constitutional concerns.
"With Universal Mail-In Voting [not Absentee Voting, which is good], 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA," he wrote. "Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" Trump tweeted.
“Trust is foundational to our democratic system,” countered Pete Buttigieg, a gay Democrat from South Bend, Indiana, who campaigned for the party’s presidential nomination. “If even the president is working to undermine it, we, the people, will need more ways to build it up.”
Buttigieg said America held an election during the Civil War and will do so again, dismissing Trump’s tweet as a distraction.
Buttigieg also shared Lewis’s recent letter to the New York Times. In this writing, Lewis hoped for a soul redemption and that historians would write “it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.”
“America was built by John Lewis,” Obama said in his eulogy. “He as much as anyone brought this country this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals.”
White House Watch is a weekly column on the 2020 presidential election. It is authored by John McDonald, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Troy State University in Troy, Alabama, the boyhood home of John Lewis.