News & Politics

'We Must Save Our Democracy': Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Warns of Dangerous 'Forces' in United States

"You're never too young or too old to... get in good trouble, necessary trouble," he said.

Photo Credit: Harvard YouTube screenshot

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a long-time lawmaker and prominent civil rights leader, gave a stirring speech Thursday at Harvard University's graduation, urging students to action while also warning of the threats to our democracy.

"We need your leadership now more than ever before," he said. "We must save our country. We must save it. We must save our democracy. There are forces in America today and around that world that are trying to take us to another place."

He continued: "You're never too young or too old to lead, to speak up, to speak out and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. You cannot afford to stand on the sidelines."

Lewis spoke of the Harvard students who went to the South to help fight against voter suppression, a fight that took the lives of three of his friends.

"The vote is precious — it is almost sacred," he said. "It is the most powerful non-violent instrument or tool we have in our democratic society. And we must use it. If we fail to use it, we will lose it."

Watch the speech below:

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.