• Thomas Parker

As John Lewis is eulogized, Obama calls for change

Former President Barack Obama gave an address during the funeral for the late Congressman John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Thursday.

During his speech, Obama said he supported eliminating the Senate filibuster so that Congress could pass voting rights legislation. Eliminating the filibuster would reduce the votes required to pass legislation in the Senate from 60 to a simple majority.

Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden recently appeared open to the Senate rule change, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said previously that "nothing's off the table" in regards to the rule.

After describing Lewis as Martin Luther King Jr.'s "finest disciple," Obama urged politicians to support giving people more access to voting as well as throwing his support behind other Democratic Party policy goals.

"You want to honor John? Honor him by reviving the law he was willing to die for," Obama said in reference to the Voting Rights Act.

"If all of this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that's what we should do," Obama said.

The former president also indirectly compared what Lewis and other civil rights leaders endured during the 1960s to the ongoing situation in Portland, Oregon, where federal law enforcement agents "use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators."

"Today, we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans," Obama said, referring to George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody. "George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators."

The federal agents in Portland have been involved in an ongoing clash with violent rioters seeking to destroy a federal courthouse. Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said "federal law enforcement will remain in Portland until the violent activity toward our federal facilities ends."

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