Celebrating civil rights hero John Lewis

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama delivered emotional tributes to the late congressman who carried out a legacy of fighting for justice.
5:03 | 07/30/20

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Transcript for Celebrating civil rights hero John Lewis
And good evening tonight from Atlanta, where amid this pandemic, amid so much worry in this country, the nation paused today to remember. A man who spent most of his fighting for equality. Three presidents came to honor John Lewis, who they say never lost hope in the promise of his funeral at the sure wrch he worshipped, ebenezer Baptist church, where Dr. Martin Luther king was once the pastor here. John Lewis learned from him and then taught others himself, leading by example. Among those here to honor him, former presidents bush and bill and former president Barack Obama delivering the eulogy, saying John Lewis' life proved that any of us can stand up to power and say, we can do better. But the former president didn't stop there. There was an urgency to his words, with this pandemic, his concern about protecting Americans, their health and their right to vote this November. ABC's Steve osunsami here in Atlanta leading us off. Precious lord Reporter: This was the tearful good-bye in Atlanta today to an honorable man and lifelong public servant who once bled for the right of black Americans to vote. We thank you, god, for the life and legacy of congressman John Lewis, who showed us this more excellent way of life. Reporter: John Lewis was the great-grandson of slaves, and at his funeral, in the middle of this pandemic, were three U.S. Presidents who came to pay their respects. John Lewis was a walking rebuke to people who thought well, we ain't there yet. We've been working a long time. Isn't it time to bag it? He kept moving. Listen, John and I had our disagreements of course, but in the America John Lewis fought for and the America I believe in, differences of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action. Reporter: His relationship with president Barack Obama was an important one. Like many black Americans, Lewis was in tears the night history was made and Obama was elected. In his eulogy, Obama pointed to this important moment, the bloody Sunday on this bridge in Alabama when Lewis nearly lost his life at the hands of police, while marching for voting rights. It was months later, when the laws changed, and many in his own family were able to vote for the first time. This idea that any of us, ordinary people, a young kid from Troy, can stand up to the powers and principalities and say no, this isn't right, this isn't true, this isn't just. We can do better. America was built by people like them. America was built by John lewises. Reporter: The former president argued that forces are still trying to suppress the vote today, right now, in November's election. Even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive I.D. Laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision. Even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that's going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don't get sick. Reporter: Outside, people watched and waved in the heat. Lewis was beloved, and was buried tonight in an Atlanta cemetery founded by freed slaves, who at the time had nowhere else to bury their dead with dignity. The final resting place for a man who so much purpose. Lead me home And Steve osunsami with us here in Atlanta tonight. And Steve, I know you have interviewed John Lewis along the and there were so many gathered outside the church here. One woman telling me in a word that he was humble. He was direct. And that he fought right until the very end. Reporter: Well, David, we are, of course, in his congressional district and he was beloved and not just by black residents but by white residents, womens, gays. In fact, his family made sure that as his body was being moved through the streets of Atlanta, that they passed through the heart of gay Atlanta. And it's all because he spent his entire life fighting for others. David? Steve osunsami leading us off tonight. Steve, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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