Civil Rights Icon John Lewis: 'I'm Probably Gonna Get Arrested Again' (Video)

Human Rights

"Daily Show" host Trevor Noah is really impressed with John Lewis' March: Book 3.

"I cannot recommend this book enough. It is fascinating. It is a novel that takes you through a beautiful story. It's a biography. It is a comic book. It is a graphic illustration. It is everything in one," Noah told the "Daily Show" audience Tuesday. 

Noah was curious about how John Lewis, who has represented Georgia's fifth congressional district since 1987, believes Martin Luther King Jr. would have viewed civil disobediance today. 

"People talk about the Black Lives Matter movement all the time, and say, 'That's not something Martin Luther King would have done. That's not how he would have handled it. Martin Luther King wouldn't be proud.' You knew Martin Luther King Jr. You were out there marching. When you see Black Lives Matter, what are the things that you commend?" Noah asked Lewis.

"March is a blueprint," Lewis answered, referring to his acclaimed series. "It is a road map. It's for now, it is for the future. We're saying to the young people of America and the young people of the world ... You know, in London, there is an ... unbelievable movement growing there of Black Lives Matter. It's spreading all across America. And I think Martin Luther King Jr. would be very proud to see young African American, young white American, young Latino and Asian American and Native American coming together to say no to racism, no to hate. That we must disarm hate and create what you call the 'beloved community,' and redeem the soul of America. And in doing so, maybe we can help redeem the soul of the world and save this little planet."

Quoting King, Lewis added, "We must be hopeful. We must be optimistic. We must never hate. As Dr. King would say, hate is too heavy a burden to bear."

Lewis maintains that non-violence is key. 

"You were a founder of the SNCC, which was a student council that was specifically designed around nonviolence," Noah pointed out. "That was an important distinction that you had to make—I've always been fascinated as to why you made that distinction."

"Well, we studied. We prepared ourselves. We studied the life and teaching of Gandhi. We studied Thoreau and civil disobedience. We studied about what was happening in South Africa. We heard about Mandela ... and others, and ... we accepted the way of nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living," Lewis said. 

But the struggle never ends. In June, Lewis was the face of the Democrats' unprecedented anti-gun violence sit-in on the House floor. Tweeting throughout the event, he said he had a "moral obligation to speak up and speak out until the House votes."

"You know, during the '60s, I was arrested 40 times, and since I've been in Congress, another five times, and I'm probably gonna get arrested again for something else," he said.

Noah laughed.

"It is a struggle of a lifetime. Maybe many lifetimes, but you must give it all. And that's why our book, March, is saying that we must continue to move our feet. Continue to push and pull. Not just to make America better, but to make our planet a little better," the civil rights icon explained.

Fighting back is especially important when some legislators are trying to take away the very rights Lewis fought for.

"There are people who are working against the Voter Rights Act [which Lewis marched for], saying that it's no longer '65. There are no more dogs and fire hoses. These rules do not need to be in place anymore. Why do you still need these rules?" Noah asked.

"No, I...I would disagree," said Lewis. "America is great and we can make America greater, but we still have problems. When you have states—whether it's North Carolina or Texas or some other places—trying to make it harder and more difficult, that's why the courts a few days ago acted. ... They want to take us back, but we've come too far, made too much progress to go back. I've said over and over again, the vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It's the most powerful, nonviolent instrument or tool that we have in our democratic society. We should make it easy and simple for everybody to participate."


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