Civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, joined marchers in Selma, Alabama for the 55th anniversary commemorative march of Bloody Sunday, CNN reports.
On March 7, 1965, Lewis, along with other protestors, attempted to walk from Selma to Montgomery, to push for voting rights in Alabama. Lewis was among those gravely beaten and injured by police, resulting in a skull fracture that nearly claimed his life.
Since that fateful day, the march has been reenacted annually to pay tribute to those who fought so hard for the freedoms we enjoy today. In 2015, President Barack Obama joined the march in Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary, giving a speech at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and later honoring those marchers who participated in 1965 with Congressional Gold Medals, the highest honor a civilian can receive.
Congressman Lewis was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer last year and was not expected to be present at this year’s march, but he showed up anyway, delivering a speech that urged voters to use voting as “a tool to redeem the soul of America.”
“Fifty-five years ago, a few of our children attempted to march … across the bridge. We were beaten, we were tear-gassed. I thought I was going to die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, God almighty helped me here. We must go out and vote like we never, ever voted before. I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to give in. We’re going to continue to fight. We need your prayers now more than ever before. We must use the vote as a nonviolent instrument or tool to redeem the soul of America,” Lewis said to marchers while standing on the bridge.
Lewis was elected to Congress in 1986. During his days of civil rights activism, he was arrested more than 40 times. He is often referred to as “the conscience of the US Congress,” and encourages people to follow his lead and get into “good trouble.”
Here’s my video of Rep. John Lewis on yesterday in Selma, AL on the same Pettus bridge that he and other marchers were beaten on 55 years ago for seeking the right to vote. 💕 This man is as strong as they come! @BlackVotersMtr @repjohnlewis pic.twitter.com/PbYjdC2Bco— LaTosha Brown (@MsLaToshaBrown) March 2, 2020
“It was very moving to be back on the bridge today. To see hundreds and thousands of young people with their mothers, their fathers, their grandparents, great grandparents, to see Black and white people, Hispanics, and others standing together, marching together, walking together, to not forget what happened and how it happened,” Lewis told CNN.
He also urged people to come together, saying he was “very hopeful and very optimistic that we’re going to work everything out.”
“We all live in the same house, that’s the American house. We got to make America better for all of her people. When no one is left out or left behind, because of their race, their color, because of where they grew up, or where they were born. We’re one people, we’re one family,” Lewis said.
Thank you for your continuous leadership and inspiration Congressman Lewis!
Photo Courtesy of @KristenClarkeJD/Twitter