Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, on the Struggle to Win–and Now Protect–Voting Rights in U.S.
We spend the hour looking at the bloody struggle to obtain — and protect — voting rights in the U.S. with the civil rights icon, now 13-term Georgia congressmember, John Lewis. During the 1960s, Rep. Lewis was arrested more than 40 times and beaten almost to death as he served as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, marched side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., helped organize the Freedom Rides, campaigned for Robert Kennedy’s presidential bid, and spoke at the 1963 March on Washington. He has just written a new memoir looking back on his more than 50 years of political involvement, "Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change."
Having risked his life marching for the right of all Americans to vote, Lewis reflects on the ongoing struggle for voting rights today, when 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that critics say target people of color. "It is so important for people to understand, to know that people suffered, struggled," Lewis says. "Some people bled, and some died, for the right to participate. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool that we have in a democratic society. It’s precious. It’s almost sacred. We have to use it. If not, we will lose it."