John Lewis shares memories of Martin Luther King Jr.

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April 4th marks 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Civil Rights activist Congressman John Lewis (Georgia) stood on the front lines with Dr. King during peaceful protest, sit-ins and marches during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. Congressman Lewis said he sees reminders of King’s legacy in younger generations. 
 
Walking into Congressman Lewis’ Washington D.C. office is like walking into American history. Photographs on his wall give a glimpse into key moments including the day Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders planned the historic “March on Washington.”
 
“When the march was all over President Kennedy invited us back to the White House. He stood in the oval office greeting each one of us” said Lewis. “Then he got to Dr. King and said “You did a good job and you had a dream.’”
 
Lewis said as a teen he was inspired by Dr. King’s message and left small-town Alabama to join the fight against segregation. Lewis recalled the first time the two civil rights icons met.
 
“Dr. King said “Are you John Lewis, are you the boy from Troy? ‘” said Lewis.  “ I gave my whole name but he still called me the boy from Troy.”
 
Lewis and King formed a close bond as they led demonstrations and worked to improve economic opportunities for black Americans. Lewis remembered campaigning in Indianapolis when he heard news from Memphis that Dr. King had been shot.  
 
“It was so sad, we all cried” said Lewis. “I think and believe that when Dr. King died something died in America and something died in all of us. A sense of hope, a sense of optimism.”
 
In the years since Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, African-Americans have been able to rise up into leading roles in business, in the media, in government and even into the White House. Lewis said if Dr. King had survived race relations would be better.
 
“I think as a nation and people we would be closer together” he said.
 
Lewis said he believes Dr. King would have concerns about issues dividing our country.  
 
“He {Dr. King} would tell Mr. Trump that we can’t go back, we are going forward” Lewis said. 
 
Lewis said he sees some reminders of Dr. King in recent student led walkouts and marches against gun violence.
 
“He’d be so proud to see hundreds of thousands of high school students in the streets understanding the philosophy and the disciple of nonviolence’ said Lewis.
 
While Lewis has seen activism like the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington D.C. he said he may never see another leader like Martin Luther King Jr. – again.
 
“I don’t think we would be blessed or so lucky to witness the likeness of Dr. Martin Luther King again. He’s one of a kind.”
 
Fifty years after his assassination, memories shared, photographs and close friends like John Lewis help keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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