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Friday, July 5, 2013

  • Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, on the Struggle to Win, and Now Protect, Voting Rights in U.S.

    Lewis

    Today we spend the hour with 13-term Congressmember Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, one of the last surviving speakers from the historic 1963 March on Washington, D.C. — which took place 50 years ago this year. During the 1960s, Lewis was arrested more than 40 times and beaten nearly 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, and campaigned for Robert Kennedy’s presidential bid.

    We look at the bloody struggle to obtain — and protect — voting rights in the United States with Lewis. He 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."