ATLANTA (CBS46)-- As family, friends, and fellow lawmakers gathered at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to honor the late congressman John Lewis, their message was clear.

"In his last days, when we both knew death was imminent, I wanted to tell him how much he meant to me. But he pulled me close and said 'everyone has to vote in November. It is the most important election ever,'" former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell recalled from the podium.

Lewis' stories of good trouble were recounted in his celebration of life. Tribute after tribute described the moments Lewis became known for; his bravery as he crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, his lengthy arrest record he wore as a badge of honor, and his unwavering morals as he stood in front of thousands as the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

"His lesson for us is that we should all keep ourselves open to hearing the call of love, of service, of sacrifice for others," former president George W. Bush said.

A life well lived, is now mourned by those still fighting for equality in America. In the last weeks of his life, Lewis stood in solidarity with young activists, now fighting the same fight on a different front-- police reform.

Weeks before his passing, former president Barack Obama spoke to Lewis about this summer's Black Lives Matter protests. "He could not have been prouder to see this new generation standing up for equality," he recalled.

Civil rights activist and long-time friend Xernona Clayton says now, young people have the chance to follow in Lewis' footsteps. "John made a decision on the kind of life he was going to live. I said to young people, you have the responsibility to have your life have the meaning you want it to be," she said.

Those closest to him, like his deputy chief of staff Jamila Thompson, say they hope Americans learn by Lewis' example. "If asked how to honor the congressman, you can make sure his work, his sacrifice, his message lives on. Actions everyone can do: be kind, be mindful, recognize the dignity and worth of every human being, be the best version of yourself, be informed, stay engaged even though the work is hard, and if you are of age and eligible, for the love of god, vote."

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Locations

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.