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In a fiery eulogy for longtime U.S. Representative John Lewis on Thursday, former President Barack Obama took a series of thinly veiled shots at the actions of his successor that he said tore at the legacy of the Black civil rights icon being laid to rest.
The funeral for Lewis, who played an instrumental role in passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, came on the same day Republican President Donald Trump suggested the Nov. 3 election could be delayed. Trump has also waged a war against mail-in ballots, a tactic critics say is aimed at suppressing votes.
"We no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot," Obama said in the eulogy, referring to one way Black people were once disqualified at the ballot box.
"But even as we sit here, there are those in power doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision."
Obama also referred to reported moves to undermine "the postal service in the run-up to an election that could be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don't get sick."
Obama, joined at the funeral by two fellow former presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton, spoke of Lewis's rise from humble beginnings on a Troy, Alabama, farm to become a leader of the 1960s struggle for equal rights for Black Americans. Ultimately, the man known as the "conscience of Congress" never gave up his drive to make "good trouble" in the cause of justice, Obama said.
Obama and others spoke or sang in front of his casket draped in the American flag at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. King, who was assassinated in 1968, had been a mentor to Lewis.