Barack Obama gave a speech at John Lewis’s funeral this week, mentioning Bull Connor and George Wallace in his eulogy to the late congressman.

There have been six days of funeral services and memorial events to honour the legacy of John Lewis. The American politician died on July 17th following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Some of the events started in John’s hometown, Troy, Alabama, proceeding to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Thursday, July 30th.

Former US president Barack Obama delivered a tribute during the memorial service on Thursday, addressing Bull Connor in his speech. So, who was Bull Connor?

Photo by Alyssa Pointer-Pool/Getty Images

Who was Bull Connor?

Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor was a politician who served as commissioner of public safety in Birmingham, Alabama for 22 years.

He was born in Selma, Alabama to mother Molly and father Hugh King Connor, who worked as a train dispatcher and telegraph operator respectively.

Bull’s political career kicked off in 1934 when he won a seat in the Alabama House of Representatives.

In a biography paper, Stanford University wrote that Bull became notorious for using his administration power to deny rights to Black people and enforce legal racial segregation.

Bull Connor and the Birmingham Campaign

Bull Connor’s name is also associated with the Birmingham Campaign, a movement supported by Martin Luther King to stop the racial segregation in the city.

According to Stanford University, under’s Bull’s administration, police officers have arrested many protesters during the demonstrations, using dogs and horses to pursue and stop them.

Barack Obama’s speech at John Lewis’s funeral

During a tribute at John Lewis’s funeral in Atlanta, Obama addressed the name of Bull Connor and George Wallace, who was a former governor of Alabama.

Obama implied that although Bull Connor and George Wallace “may be gone”, there were still similarities within the current USA government including “federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators”.

The former US president said (via New York Times):

“Bull Connor may be gone. But today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans. George Wallace may be gone. But we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”

Obama continued:

“We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot. But even as we sit here, there are those in power are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting — by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws, and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

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