The life of late civil rights icon and longtime Rep. John Lewis was celebrated on Tuesday night (Aug. 4) in a prime time, all-star CBS special hosted by Oprah Winfrey. The special featured tributes from Brad Pitt, Tyler Perry, Trevor Noah, Gayle King and many more.
Lewis, who died on July 17 at age 80, was honored during the show John Lewis: Celebrating a Hero, which told the life story of the Georgia lawmaker. Lewis became a key figure in the civil rights movement, helping to lead the “Bloody Sunday” march through Selma, Alabama, which helped spur the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The special featured gospel great Yolanda Adams and country singer Wynonna teaming up for the standard “I’m Not Tired Yet,” Billy Porter backed by Jon Batiste for an emotional take on Sam Cooke’s soul standard “A Change is Gonna Come” and John Legend and Common recreating their powerful Grammy- and Oscar-winning collaboration “Glory” on a projection of the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge, where a then 25-year-old Lewis led hundreds of marchers in a peaceful protest as state troopers set upon them with clubs, whips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire.
Among the other highlights was Jennifer Hudson’s opening act, a powerful cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” performed high on a rooftop in her hometown of Chicago.
Pharrell Williams also brought joy and light to the proceedings by singing one of Lewis’ favorite songs, “Happy,” in a montage that mixed classic footage of key moments in civil rights history with images from recent Black Lives Matter protests and cameos from celebrity guests including Ciara, Usher, DJ Khaled, Tracee Ellis Ross, Steph Curry and more.