John Lewis: ‘This moment has been a long time coming, but change has come’

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the few speakers at Wednesday's March on Washington anniversary who was also at the march 50 years ago, said nobody should underestimate the progress made over that span.

"This moment has been a long time coming, but change has come," Lewis said.

To those who doubt that's the case, Lewis said: "Come and walk in my shoes. Come walk in the shoes of those attacked by police dogs, fire hoses and night sticks, arrested and thrown in jail."

Lewis added: "Fifty years later, we can ride where we want to ride … and those signs that said 'white only' and 'colored' are gone."

Even as he emphasized the progress made, Lewis declared that the battle is not over. He made particular reference to the killing of Trayvon Martin, New York City's "stop and frisk" policy, Voter ID and immigration reform.

Lewis also spoke at a rally celebrating the March on Washington on Friday, criticizing the Supreme Court for striking down part of the Voting Rights Act.

"I gave a little blood ... for that right to vote," Lewis said Friday. "I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us."

Lewis's impact in Washington began decades before he was elected in 1986 to fill what is now Georgia's Atlanta-based 5th district.

In 1963, Lewis was a 23-year-old civil rights leader, then head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the youngest person to speak during the "March on Washington."

In 2009, the day of President Obama's inauguration, Lewis received an autographed photo of the new commander in chief that was signed, "Because of you, John. Barack Obama."

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Sean Sullivan · August 28, 2013

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