tv MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin MSNBC July 27, 2020 8:00am-9:00am PDT
stay out! plus with unlimited data, you can stream and scroll more than ever. and we'll ensure that you get the most wifi coverage throughout your home. this is xfi complete. simple, easy, awesome. get the security, unlimited data and wifi coverage you need. plus, xfi customers can add xfi complete for only $11 a month. call or visit a store today. ♪ and a good monday morning to you. craig melvin here. we start this morning remembering a civil rights giant. congressman john lewis. right now, we are watching for the arrival of the late congressman's casket at joint
base andrews in washington, d.c. a plane carrying some of his family members, as you can see, has arrived. his family members de-planing now on the right side of your screen. they are waiting for the beloved congressman from georgia to land any moment now, after lying in state in alabama and crossing that edmund pettis bridge in selma one last time on sunday. the man who has been known as the conscious ence of congress return to the capitol one final time, where he will lie in state. in his final journey through washington, a motorcade is going to carry him through the city before ending at the capitol. a live look now at the plane carrying congressman john lewis' body. thousands will say their final
fair wel farewells over the next few days, but as this year has shown, his life's work fighting for equality is far from over. i want to bring in kelly o'donnell, who is on capitol hill for us. kelly o., you have covered congress a number of years now. you knew congressman lewis fairly well. walk us through what we can expect today there in washington, and who we might see and hear from, pay tribute. >> reporter: this will be a day that will be both personal and s ceremonial, official and a chance for the public to show respects to congressman lewis. it is, of course, against the backdrop of coronavirus. some of the ceremonies will be altered in a way. what will be so striking is that connection of what john lewis has meant to the community of congress and the larger washington, d.c., area, and the place of history that he holds. having covered him for many years, i had a chance to speak
to him on so many occasions. part of what always stood out about john lewis was his gentleness, his kindness, something quite rare in modern politics, and at the same time, a fearlessness that existed throughout his life. as a young man, pushing the boundaries for the civil rights movement, pushing himself to be a part of martin luther king jr.'s inner circle that took him to the steps of the lincoln memorial for the march on washington. ultimately, more than 30 years in congress. we have heard so much since his passing about his contributions in the civil rights arena, but i think one of the things that you'll see today is the much more personal connection of people who considered him a colleague, a boss here on capitol hill. people who were his friends. that personal connection will certainly be evident. it will also be a chance for the public, later in the day, to pay their respects, filing past the flag-draped casket here. before we get to that point,
there will be the important ceremony inside the capitol rotunda. a rare honor reserved for america's most important statesmen and women. john lewis clearly among them. what will be notable here is we will hear from the leaders of congress, speaker pelosi, mitch mcconnell, his close friend james clyburn, who is in leadership on the democratic side. a lot of that will be the stuff that will fill pages of history in the story of john lewis. the more personal acknowledgments you'll see around the capitol, where people have honestly felt the pain of this loss. we saw it when a resolution honoring his memory was read by the house clerk, who reads every important piece of legislation that comes before congress, and her voice halted. she choked up with emotion. it's something many people here felt. that's not because of his large reputation. it was because of his everyday interactions. one of the things that always struck me about covering him and he would ask, "how are you?"
that's not something you always find, dealing with officials and people who are important and hold high office. when you would watch him interacting with tourists or visitors here to the capitol, he'd want to know what brought them here. what did they want to see or understand. he never stopped being the kind of person who would inquire about what was on someone else's mind. he wasn't just telling his own story. those are some of the things about john lewis that really stand out to me. unfailingly kind, pleasant, and, yet, fierce about the things he faired about. willing to do the good trouble that he spoke about throughout his career. even things like breaking the rules. he was an institutionalist, to be sure, about the importance of being a member of congress, but when the issue of gun rights and gun safety became so heightened after the sandy hook shooting, he was one of those who led a sit-in on the house floor. that was something that breaks the rules, but it was the kind
of good trouble that john lewis stood for. knowing when to push the boundaries for a cause that he believed in. so people here on capitol hill will remember not only the historical contributions, but the very personal ones, of the day to day interactions they've had with him over his more than 30 years as a member of congress. craig? >> kelly o., as you were reporting there, we have been watching that plane taxi on the runway at joint base andrews. congressman john lewis has landed. his casket has landed there in washington for the very last time. before that, we saw members of his family also de-planing there. we can tell you now that his casket, once it leaves joint base andrews, will weave through the nation's capital, making more than a half dozen stops before he eventually stops there to lie in state. he will be stopping at the
martin luther king jr. memorial, the lincoln memorial, the black lives matter plaza. that location is significant, because that was the site of his last public appearance just a few weeks ago. up from there, as you can see here on your screen, the motorcade will make its way to the national museum of african-american history and culture. it was john lewis who first raised the idea in 1988 of such a museum. from there, it will then head to the department of justice, the national council of negro women, and from there, on to the supreme court, and eventually ending at the capitol where he is going to lie in state today and tomorrow. on wednesday, the late congressman will make his way to atlanta, georgia. his beloved city of so many decades, where he served the people of the 5th congressional district since 1987. his funeral happening on
thursday at the historic ebenezer baptist church. we continue to see the c-32 taxi at joint base andrews. i want to bring in the former assistant to the u.s. attorney of the southern district of new york. also a new professor at the new school. certified expert on racial justice and equality. professor wiley, we are going to, over the next few days, spend a fair amount of time talking about john lewis, the civil rights icon, but what should not get lost in this discussion is, here is a man who really prided himself on legislating, as well. he spent a great deal of time in washington crafting legislation, whether it was related to voting rights, whether it was related to gun rights, as well. john lewis wanted to be remembered as someone who, yes, caused good trouble, but who also spent a fair amount of his professional life doing the work
of the people. >> absolutely. you know, good trouble happens in many places. john lewis has stood as a giant for justice, whether he was standing on the edmund pettis bridge, or whether he was standing up in the wells of congress. you know, your point, craig, that is so important here, is his legacy is not just lying in state in the capitol. his legacy is actually marching through the streets of the united states today and every day. because one of the things he said was, "sometimes you have to make a way where there's no way." one of the things that we have to make a way for is the piece of legislation that he has championed on voting rights, that is still stuck in the senate. that's something that's critical right now. because what john lewis, i think, would be saying to us right now is --
>> i think we just lost professor wiley. we'll try to get her signal back up. i still have kelly o'donnell with me. kelly o., as we watch this air force plane taxi here at joint base andrews, as a pointed out a few moments ago, you've covered the hill for a number of years now, is there a story that comes to mind of john lewis there on the hill over the course of your career covering him, a story that comes to mind that perhaps sort of typifies who he was? >> reporter: well, there's one that comes to mind that, for me, is a personal memory. it was several years ago, when the congress was going to honor rosa parks with a statue in statuary hall. a rare, rare honor.
each state gets to nominate a person. often, they are people from decades ago, office holders, and so forth. rosa parks played an instrumental role in the civil rights movement, with her being unwilling to give up her seat. i spent some time with congressman lewis in his office, which in so many ways, was a living museum. because here he was, a member of congress, actively serving, as you were saying, in the battles of the day, working on legislation, but you stepped into his office, and you could see the personal artifacts of his lifetime in the arena of civil rights. you could see handwritten notes from martin luther king jr. and photos. he was gracious enough to walk me through all of that and share some personal moments about some of those artifacts. as a journalist, many of us are lovers of history. i was just taken with it. he was so patient.
now, imagine how many times people have come to the office of john lewis and would want to have those conversations. yet, it was as if i was the first person to ever inquire about it. he was so helpful. and when i picked up a photo that depicted him and rosa parks, he said to me, "i loved her." and you could see how that was a real relationship. from my point of view, here were these two figures who have historical significance, and in just a moment, he made them both so human and so personal. that will stay with me. and he talked at that time about, had there been no rosa parks, there would be no martin luther king jr., what he was able to accomplish in the civil rights movement. and had there been no rosa parks and no martin luther king jr., there would be no barack obama as president of the united states. that makes me think, if there had been no john lewis, what
would we be talking about today? so that is a personal memory i will carry forever. because while we were doing a story and it was part of our work, he allowed me to go on a personal journey with him that was very meaningful and historical, and it connected -- and it is something we really lose with the loss of john lewis. the sense of heros of another time being real, 3-dimensional figures in our midst. that's a rarity. i was privileged to get to have those experiences, and he was so generous in sharing them. craig? >> kelly o'donnell. kelly o., thank you so much for that memory. and having also spent some time in the congressman's office, i can attest to the fact that, yes, it could have easily been a museum by itself, as well. our eyes are fixed on this plane because, again, the casket of john lewis is expected to be
lowered any moment now. his family members are going to be taking their positions on the flight deck to observe that casket being unloaded into a hearse. that hearse, again, going to be weaving its way through the streets of washington, d.c. one final time. i want to bring in historian, author, and msnbc contributor jon meacham right now. his latest book could not be more timely. "his truth is marching on: john lewis and the power of hope." there's the cover. that book is due out next month. mr. meacham, always good to have your insight and your perspective. i know that you spent a fair amount of time talking to the late congressman for the book. when you talked to him, jon, what were the pressing issues on his mind? what was he talking about? >> you know, one of the most amazing things about the late set of conversations we had -- i
was fortunate enough to know him over almost 30 years -- but he was absolutely focused, as late as june of this year, on his own sense of restlessness, that he wished he could do more. think about that for a second. he wished he could do more, as he put it, to save our country, to save our world, maybe even to save our planet. coming from some people, perhaps that might seem like a platitude or just sort of chatter. it was absolutely from the depth of his soul, that he believed he was ordained, in many ways, to try to bring the gospel of jesus into being in the world. he and i disagreed about whether perfection is possible on this side of paradise. whether the temporal world can be made whole and perfect.
he said yes, and he gave his life to try to bring that act. i have a more tragic view. we would debate this. we'd talk about it. he always won, of course, because, well, he's john lewis. so you just give in. so what was on his mind was george floyd. it was black lives matter. it was voting rights. it was the work ahead. because, remember, when your life is defined by going across a bridge, you keep going. and one of the things, craig, i suspect you share this with me -- as we watch these images -- of john robert lewis of troy, alabama, arriving at joint base andrews in an air force plane, about to be driven through the streets of the national capital, to lie in state at the rotunda. 50 years ago, 55 years ago, many of the forces of this city were
arrayed against him. the fbi surveilled him. surveilled dr. king. the kennedys were ambivalent but ultimately brought along. but the federal bureau of investigation, many of the members of congress, who for 57 days in 1964 filibustered the civil rights act of '64, which is now seen as one of the top five events of the 20th century. beats the landing on the moon, the kennedy -- john kennedy's assassinati assassination, the first world war, the great depression. americans believe that this was one of the central events of our time, of the whole time. and one of the points that congressman lewis made toward the end is, people say we haven't come far. well, i wish they would walk as around in my shoes. because he lived to see this city be arrayed against him and
his cause and it is now honoring him. and the work, as maya was saying, has to be to continue, not simply -- we cannot let him become a monument. he was a man. he was a saint, in my view. in classical religious terms. he was willing to give his life, to suffer and to die for an ideal of generosity and kindness, opposed to selfishness and cruelty. but saints can't be just stained glass figures. saints are sinners who are just a lot better than the rest of us. i think that he would want to be seen as an exemplary person, but a person. and if a person from troy, alabama, who preached to the chickens in the pre-dawn dark ness to overcome a stutter and
hone his craft, could end up in the rotunda of the united states capitol, to be honored by a nation who was against him a half century ago, then he would say there are young people on farms and in neighborhoods around the world today who will someday lead us to the same kind of place. >> he used to say from time to time, when he was preaching to those chickens when he was a little boy, the chickens were a lot more inclined to listen than some of his colleagues there on the hill over the years. >> exactly. >> jon, one of the things i've always -- you know, i was fortunate to spend some time with the congressman a few times over the years. one of the things that really always struck me about john lewis was he seemed genuinely interested in your life. >> yeah. >> your kids, your profession. he was also, until the bitter end, a voracious reader.
consumed news like few people. i mean, in terms of the newspapers. some of his family members proceed to the plane here to salute. we just saw speaker of the house nancy pelosi, as well, there on the tarmac at joint base andrews. jon meacham, what was he like, not as a civil rights icon, not as this larger-than-life figure we came to know him, but what was john lewis the guy, what was he like? >> he was a nationals fan. as a yankee fan, i find that to be the one thing we have to hold against him on this. he likes the atlanta braves. i asked him what his favorite
movie was. wonderfully, it was "gandhi," watching the drama come to life which shaped so much of him. he had a bunch of cats at home in atlanta. took care of the cats. always took care of things, which goes to your point about his interest in other people. his first memory, he told me, was of his mother's garden in troy. he remembered a big bucket of water that would be by the fence. he always, as he put it, he always loved to make things grow. he was always, as you say, in the arena. he was a voracious consumer of cable news and the newspapers. absolutely knew everything that was unfolding. his wife, lillian, who had been a peace corps volunteer and librarian in atlanta before their marriage, was a huge reader, as well. so it was a house full of books. he once found a signed king book. i think it was "where do we go from here," maybe.
one of the late books in a washington secondhand bookstore. it was one of his prize possessi possessions. you and kelly mentioned his office. he was also an astute historian. he collected an enormous amount of memorabilia, of relics, if we stay within the theological frame, from the civil rights movement. has an extraordinary collection of -- memorabilia doesn't really capture it. in my mind, one of the dramas today is for those of us who are watching to remember, this man is a war hero. he's a nonviolent war hero, but his bravery, his courage, his role in the life of the nation is what we tend, in the popular imagination, to associate with soldiers, with people who faced enemy fire abroad. the remarkable thing about john lewis is that he faced enemy
fire at home. one of the first moments was in your native state, sad to say, in rockhill, south carolina, when, on the freedom rides, he walked into -- and you may remember this -- one of the klansman who beat him that day. had a conversion experience when barack obama was inaugurated. reached out to congressman lewis, and they reconciled. in fact, they've made several public appearances to testify to the power of forgiveness. nobody actually forgives. that's what's so amazing about this man. he took the words and made them deeds. he did it with his body. he did it with his soul. and this is not sentimentality. this is not something we're saying in the emotional wave after his death. this is a man who walked in our midst and made us a better
people. >> amen to that. mr. meacham, thank you. thank you, as always. as our eyes are trained on this open door here, this is, of course, again, the c-32 plane that is carrying the casket of john lewis. we expect, any moment now, that the casket will be lowered and positioned into a hearse, where the late congressman will pass a number of landmarks on his way to lie in state inside that capitol rotunda for the next two days. you can see the air force -- the members of the air force there positioned at the bottom of the stairs. while we watch for the casket, i want to bring in mississiptryma. pulitzer prize winner. host of "into america" podcast. you actually had the chance to reflect on john lewis' life and
a conversation on the aforementioned podcast with civil rights icon dr. bre naern lafayette. how are the congressman's contemporaries remembering him? >> thanks for having me, craig. what's amazing in talking to dr. bernard lafayette -- for those who don't know who dr. lafayette is, he is also an icon in the civil rights movement out of tennessee. american baptist college. but he described john lewis -- again, bernard lafayette was his roommate in college. he described him as a mountain of a man, which is saying something for his contemporary to say that. he also described him as ultimately resistant, improvable, unbreakable. he described a moment during the freedom rides, during many times when john lewis was attacked. someone taking a soda crate and cracking him over the skull with it. the metal binding on it opened up his skull, and he didn't even move.
he said, that was his character. he'd stand in the face of great violence for the mission, right? we always talk about the kind of king and nonviolence. they harnessed the violence of evil and heaped it upon themselves, to reveal more about the flaws in the system. that's the part that i think can't be lost. this idea that it wasn't out of hate. it wasn't out of anger. it was out of great love. this idea of the beloved community. that only if we harness the good in ourselves, if only we harness the love in ourselves, we can move that violence. when you think about, again, dr. bernard lafayette in tennessee, vivian, who passed the same day as lewis, in tennessee, it reminds me of detroit and motown. you have the temptations. you have diana ross. you have everyone coming out -- barry gordy. out of tennessee, diane nash, still with us. bernard lafayette, still with us. c.t. vivian and john lewis. i think that's the part, sadly,
we take for granted. there are giants among us, living history, and it's easy to put them on a stand and have even your opposition praising you. at the time, john lewis was radical. john lewis' mission of equality was met with great violence. talking to dr. lafayette and reflecting on the life and, sadly, the death of john lewis really puts things into perspective. the idea of great love, that he wasunmovable, this boy from troy, as you know, craig, is amazing. one other thing. two times this happened to me. i knew john lewis, and he knew who i was. i was in awe, god smacked, almost doubled over. the fact john lewis knew who i was. he made you feel like you were somebody and you were special. i'll never forget that, craig. >> amen to that, brother. he sure did. to our point we were just discussing a few moments ago, part of that was because john
lewis, he really did watch a lot of news. my man, trymaine lee, thank you, sir. thank you so much for that. i want to turn for a moment to congresswoman eleanor holmes-norton who represents, of course, the district of columbia. before that, long before that, she and congressman john lewis were long-time friends. we were both part of that famous group called snick, the student nonviolent coordinating committee. congresswoman, so nice to have you this morning. your friendship with john lewis goes back to the '60s. recently, you spoke of his more than 40 arrests. more than 45, if i'm not mistaken, in those days. and the danger that wasn't just from the police, as well, congresswoman. what were some of those other dangers? what were those times like for you and the late congressman? >> yeah, if only it was only the
police, as we are seeing across the country today. mobs that were led by the police were two johnny encountered. what i must say, because he risked his life. john was a pioneer in nonviolent resistance. he was a dfan of martin luther king. when confronted with violence, you could not strike back. that meant as members of snick moved forward, the only tactic available to us was to kneel, to pray, or to somehow indicate that we were nonviolent. the effect on the police, p particularly, was bewilderment. they did not know what to do
with people who were not -- who were engaged in nonviolent protests. it took a leader like john lewis, who i believe was the most important leader of the civil rights movement, except for martin luther king jr.. it took a leader like that, a leader by example, to set the example for the rest of us. >> congresswoman, as you and i are having this conversation, we are watching the hearse pull there, pull up to the plane at joint base andrews. again, our understanding is the late congressman's casket is going to be lowered and then put into that hearse before the late congressman passes through the streets of washington, d.c., one final time.
congresswoman, what was john lewis like as a colleague there on the hill? as a legislator. >> i think the most appropriate term for john is self-effacing. that he was unaware of his own importance. so that when you met him, or certainly when people who were not his peers, let's say other members of congress met him, he engaged them in simple conversation. i think that's one of the reasons he is so revered. that in the congress of the united states, he simply was not an icon. he was a member of congress. though it must be said, that as important as his role was here in congress, he became a subcommittee chair. he was never a full chair because that is done by seniority. but as important as his role was, it would be very impossible for any member of congress to do
more than john did as a leader of the civil rights movement. that's going to be his legacy. >> we've been showing some of the pictures of you and the late congressman over the years. earlier, i had the opportunity to spend some time talking to martin luther king iii, who talked about how he came to know john lewis as uncle john. because when he was a boy, john lewis was in and out of his house so often, plotting and planning with his late mentor, dr. martin luther king jr. both men will be eulogized in ebenezer baptist church. that's where john lewis will be remembered this thursday. congresswoman, thank you for your time, as always. i want to turn to democratic senator cory booker of new jersey. one of the many who counts
congressman john lewis as a mentor, as a friend. senator booker joining us from the hill. senator, you've shared before that on the day that you were first sworn into the upper chamber, the last meeting you had before being sworn in was with congressman lewis. what lessons will you hold on to from your years of friendship? >> you know, first of all, my dad had just died, and the fact that john lewis stepped up to sort of send me off to be sworn in was a very powerful moment for my mom and me. my mom and him were peers. so this is a man that was such a giant, but i think that makes him so extraordinarily great is he was so accessible. he was so human. and, yet, showed us the ability to live by certain core virtues. if you read historians like w.b. dubois, what you see coming out
the best is virtue s of our nation. i don't think there was anybody living in my time, when i got to the congress, that better exemplified our common values than john lewis. for me, it is humbling. when he told me what it meant to him, that so much of his work, a symbol of the fruition of his work, was to watch the fourth properly elected black congressman to be sworn into the senate. it let me with this understanding, every moment i get to hold this job on walk on to the senate floor was paid for, literally, by the sweat and tears and blood of his generation. that i stand on the shoulders of such giants that i can never pay back, yet i can try to prove worthy by paying it forward every day through the work that we do. so it doesn't hang over me like -- i'm not sitting in the shadow of that, but i'm standing in the light of that every day. so many of my generation know the truth of how we got to where
we are, standing in that light and that purpose. >> there would be no senator cory booker without a congressman john lewis. senator, not to make this too political, but one of the things that has been striking over the last few days is to read and hear from a number of folks who are more than willing to honor the man, but not necessarily honor his cause. by that, i mean, you and i both know john lewis for the better part of his personal and professional life fighting for voting rights in this country. how frustrating has that been for you, senator? go ahead. >> well, it's been consistently frustrating. whenever you see the co-option of people that were constantly calling to the conscience of this country.
when martin luther king died, more people disapproved of him than approved of him. what's happened now is one of my men i respect has said, it is the santa clausification of dr. king. we forgot about his demands for radicalism. his demands for justice. his condemnation of the war machines that we were building, and how it related to the vietnam war. we've made him comfortable, cuddly, easy to accept, and cheer for. but no, when we lose john lewis' radicali radicalism, that it fundamentally comes from a radical love, that we do not evidence, we do not evidence in our common culture. we are too focused on materialism, on possessions, on position. john was always about principle and purpose and a radical unconditional love for others. so i just worry that we're going to forget his insistent demands.
what is love in the public sphere if it is not justice? he was an insistent demander of justice in this country. so to co-opt him now, to turn him from a fierce advocate for social justice, economic justice, criminal justice, health care justice, but make him a comfortable, easy acceptance really denies the you are jurgency of his life. if we want to honor his legacy, we have to continue that work and that commitment. >> new jersey senator cory booker. senator booker, thank you. thank you, sir. >> thank you very much. >> house speaker noon ancy pelo there on the tarmac greeting members of john lewis' family. again, you know, in these times in which we live, it's a bit difficult to make out precisely
who is who because of the masks. but i believe i did see his son a few moments ago. john lewis had just the one child, a son, john myles lewis. a son that they adopted in 1976. the agency where they first met their son, ironically, was on martin luther king drive there in georgia. i want to bring in nicole hannah jones for a few moments, as well. staff writer for the "new york times" magazine, creator of the world-famous 1619 project. a history of slavery in america, for which she was awarded a pulitzer prize. nicole, john lewis, the son of two sharecroppers, about to lie in state in the capitol rotunda
for the next few days. you sat down with him not long ago. you talked about freedom summer, the lunch counter sit-ins. what did he tell you about how he viewed his legacy? >> thank you for having me on today. this has been such a hard last couple of weeks. john lewis was five years older than my father, who was also born on a sharecropper farm in mississippi. i've been thinking about both of them a lot lately. you know, john lewis was not one who wanted to spend a lot of time assessing his legacy. when i talked to him, he really wanted to focus on the work of all of the everyday people who took part in the movement. we tend to remember a handful of names, but it was the everyday citizens who risked their -- not just their lives, but their livelihood, their property, to
stand up and demand to be full citizens. he would always move the conversation towards them. that's really what we talked about. the other thing that really struck me in the conversations, so i interviewed him in 2014 for the anniversary of freedom summer. of course, he was one of the architects of freedom summer. one of the things that really struck me was how supportive he was of the black lives matter movement and the protests that were also occurring around black people still fighting to get full citizenship. so much of the time, we hear people who love the man but hate the man's work, try to use the civil rights movement against the protests that are happening today. he was not one who was ever going to allow that to occur. >> they were not going to co-opt john lewis' legacy. >> absolutely. yeah, you know, this was -- so often, the people who we think
of as our heros, at some point, disappoint us. you just can't say that about someone like john lewis. he was on the right side of human rights at all times. he was very early on the side of gay rights. he was very -- always on the side of women's rights. on the rights of black people to continue to protest and to continue to fight for the rights of all americans. so he was not one who were ever going to be co-opted. i'm not a person who was ev ever star-struck. when i interview people famous, i never ask for a photo. it's never been important to me. but when i met john lewis, i had to get a photo taken with him. this was a man who was truly a hero. i understood, i would not be in the position that i am today without this man. we just -- there are few greater americans, i think, when we tell the history of this country.
>> since we're being honest, i did the same thing, nikole. whipped out the camera phone and asked a staffer to get a picture, as well. because here's the thing, nikole, and i think, you know, folks now are familiar with the story of john lewis on the edmund pettis bridge in 1965, when he was 20 years old. there are few americans, living or dead, who devoted just about their entire life to public service in some way, shape, form, or fashion. as we watch the honor guard approach the plane here. here was john lewis, who never really left the movement. there was snick, and from that, he goes on to run for civty council in atlanta. a lot of folks don't like to talk about the congressional race against his friend, julian bond in the '80s.
he would go on to represent the 5th congressional district that encompassing nearly all of atlanta. re-elected 16, 17 times. i've lost track. only once, only once did john lewis receive less than 70% of the vote. he was beloved, not just in and around his congressional district, but all over the country and world. nikole, to your point, it's just a tremendous loss. we have lost another lion. nikole, don't go far. i'd love for you to stick around here for the next few hours. for a moment there, i want to bring in my friend and mentor, michael eric dyson, author of "tears we cannot stop," a sermon to white america. professor dyson, we are watching this flag-draped casket.
>> a final salute from the honor guard on the tarmac at joint base andrews, a of hoisting the casket of the late congressman into that hearse. the hearse will now, again, wind its way through the streets of washington, d.c., where congressman lewis has served as a representative for the 5th congressional district since 1986. through the window there of the hearse, we get a glimpse of that flag-draped casket, professor dyson. michael eric dyson joining me now. when an icon like john lewis slips away, mr. dyson, what kind of impact does that have on the
current civil rights movement? what kind of impact does it have on future civil rights movements? >> one is reminded of the words of w.h. audin upon learning the death of hammershaw, citing, what a great light that has gone out in the world. a great light has gone out in the world today. john lewis, though a phrase much repeated, a cliche now, was a genuine american hero. here was a man willing to give his very life and limb in service of noble principles of democracy that have been vouched safe by the federal government and the american society, but not reinforced in its practice. ideally articulated but not materially produced. john lewis said, "i'm going to close the gap between the ideal
of american democracy and its practice." along with martin luther king jr., mcclark, diane nash, c.t. vivian, rosa parks, ella baker, and a host of others, a great cloud of witnesses who have gathered around the throne of our american democracy, the sacred pursuit of justice was realized by black people who were brought here as enslaved figures. nikole hannah-jones in the 1619 project talks about that particular year, now made itself an iconic number in the roll call of years that have fatefully designed destiny for black people. and bringing those souls over to america, the great, great, great, great-grandson of those figures now lies in state. born to two sharecroppers, but
rose higher than most people have in this nation. not simply in his political status and pedigree, but in terms of his moral wherewithal. his capacity to say simply and plainly that america is an and plainly that america is an xpeemp experiment and ideal and until we bring together the truths of democracy and justice in do democracy -- here is a man worthy of every bit of attention paid to him because of his enormous humility, made him one of it greatest figures we have ever witnessed. >> professor michael eric dyson. professor dyson, thank you, sir. do stand by for me, if you can. we just saw a few members of congressman lewis' family board
the bus. our understanding is that that bus is going to trail the hearse as the hearse makes its way to the capitol will congressman john lewis will lie in state the next two days, before he makes his way, before he stops at the capitol, though, they're all more than half a dozen stops, all of them significant in one way or another. the first stop appropriately of course at the martin luther king jr. memorial. it was, of course, dr. king who inspired a 15-year-old john lewis to get involved in the movement in 1955. congressman lewis tells a fantastic story, told a fantastic story, of writing to dr. king when he was a boy, and dr. king didn't just write him back, he sent him a greyhound
bus ticket, and the rest, of course, is history. his first stop will be at dr. king's memorial. we just showed you a map there of not just the first stop but the other stops as well. we are going to pause for just a few moments. lots more on the life and the legacy of congressman john lewis right after this. the sleep number 360 smart bed is on sale now. can it help keep us asleep? absolutely, it senses your movements and automatically adjusts to keep you both comfortable save up to $900 on select sleep number 360 smart beds. plus 0% interest for 24 months and free delivery when you add a base. ends monday.
that hearse preparing to depart. going to be making a number of stops at our nation's capitol, and actually the hearse is pulling away right now. going to be making a number of stops in washington, d.c. as it makes its way to the rotunda where there will be a ceremony this afternoon. a number of the congressman's friends and colleagues will offer some remembrances there in the rotunda just a few hours from now as that hearse receives a police escort from joint base andrews. again, a number of expected stops, expected being the operative word, because the family could very well decide along the way it wants to make one or two more. but the mfk k mlk memorial, lin
memorial. national council's negro women, the supreme court and, of course, the capitol. speaking of the capitol, let us turn there for a moment. republican congressman buddy carter, a member of the delegation from georgia. congressman, thank you so much for your time this morning. i know that you spent a fair amount of time with congressman lewis there on the hill. over the last, the last couple of decades and talked about walking to the house floor with him for votes. tell us about those walks. what those conversations were like. what those moments meant to you. >> well, as you can imagine, it was quite an honor for me. i mean, here i was walking with someone who was part of history, and every opportunity i had to walk with him i would do that, and i would hang on to every word that he said, and, you know, i used to joke with him, because as you can imagine, when we were walking outside towards
the capitol people want to get their picture taken. do you think they want their picture with you or with me? he would always laugh at that, but it was truly just an honor. listen, in our lives there are people and places that you remember and i will always remember john lewis and what a great american what a giant among men. >> congressman, you and the lead congressman lewis, you were on different sides of the aisle. you disagreed on a number of policy issues, as one would expect. what were the things about john lewis that you will always respect, the things that you will always carry with you? >> well, the thing -- he was so kind. so kind to me. he was so kind to all of us in the georgia delegation. he was the leader of the georgia delegation. we were so proud to have a member like john lewis leading our delegation, and what a great opportunity it was for all of us to be there. i remember one time in particular that he invited us
all to his home for dinner here in washington, d.c. one of the most special experiences that i've ever had up here in washington. no question about it. just to listen to him tell the stories that he told about preaching to the chickens when he was growing up, and in alabama. about being with dr. king and the stories that he told. just great, great memories. what an honor for me to have been able to experience that. >> what about the acrimony there in washington? as you know, our nation's capital has unfortunately -- it's become synonymous with gridlock and just vitriol being spewed. what did he ever say to you about the environment of washington, d.c., the nastiness of modern politics? >> well, you know, it was interesting. i told you abo