Watch Oprah’s inspiring tribute to Rep. John Lewis: ‘He knew he had to stand up’


Oprah Winfrey delivered an inspirational tribute on Tuesday to Rep. John Lewis, remembering the late civil rights icon as “A man blessed so early with a wisdom way beyond his years.”

The CBS special, “John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero,” featured powerful remarks from cohosts Gayle King, Brad Pitt, Tyler Perry and Winfrey, who narrated historical segments documenting Lewis’ life — from a young boy growing up on a farm in Troy, Ala., to a mentee of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leading peaceful protests against racial injustice.

“I’m honored to stand tonight in tribute to a man who is known as a lion of the civil rights movement,” Winfrey said. “John Lewis dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties and building what he called the beloved community in America.

“I remember the first time I met John Lewis. I thanked him for being a bridge that made my life of freedom possible. And every time I saw or spoke to him over the years, I thanked him again and again — up until our last conversation a week before he passed.”


The hourlong program also included appearances and musical performances from Common, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Billy Porter, Trevor Noah, Yolanda Adams, Jon Batiste and Wynonna. During his segment, Perry spotlighted the late congressman’s contributions as a preacher, while King honored his legacy as a Freedom Rider and leader of the 1965 march across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Lewis died at age 80 on July 17 after announcing in December that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

“Of the many remarkable things that come to mind when I remember the legacy of John Lewis, is how young he was when he embarked on the long, arduous road of social justice,” Winfrey continued. “How, as a young boy, he looked around and saw the inequality of the conditions and treatment that the Black people were afforded, and he knew he had to stand up and demand change.”

“John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero” is now available to stream in full on CBS All Access. The special will also air at a later date on BET, MTV, Smithsonian and OWN.

A star-studded TV tribute to Rep. John Lewis — cohosted by Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, Tyler Perry and Gayle King — airs Aug. 4 on CBS.

Aug. 4, 2020