john lewis

Jennifer Holliday Performs a Powerful ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ at John Lewis’s Funeral

Jennifer Holliday. Photo: PBS

The death of Congressman John Lewis on July 17 drew tributes to the legendary civil-rights leader from figures across the country, including former President Barack Obama and cultural icons like Ava DuVernay. Lewis’s July 30 memorial service featured a similar slate to help commemorate his legacy — including Broadway actor turned gospel singer Jennifer Holliday. Early in the service, she performed the hymn “Only What You Do for Christ Will Last,” and she returned for a rousing version of the gospel song “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” before President Obama’s eulogy. The latter especially is a performance to rival her stunning rendition of “And I Am Telling You (I’m Not Going),” which earned her a Tony in 1982 for her role in Dreamgirls. If anyone was deserving of such a performance, it was Lewis.

The memorial for Lewis, the longtime representative a Georgia district that includes most of Atlanta, took place at the city’s Ebenezer Baptist Church — formerly led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — where Lewis was a member. The speakers included three former presidents: Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Former members of Lewis’s staff, activists, politicians, and church leaders also gave remarks, along with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who worked with Lewis in the House Democratic Caucus. Audience members, meanwhile, included Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, along with current Atlanta mayor Keisha Bottoms. Find the full four-hour broadcast below; Holliday performs around the 49-minute mark and again at around 2 hours and 54 minutes.

Jennifer Holliday Performs at John Lewis’s Memorial Service