Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) returned to the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday to issue a new call for civil rights legislation, 50 years after spoke as a 23-year-old at the March on Washington.
“Those days, for the most part, are gone, but we have another fight,” Lewis said. “There are forces who want to take us back. But we can’t go back.”
The veteran House Democrat called out the Supreme Court decision in June to invalidate a key part of the Voting Rights Act.
“I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us,” Lewis said. He urged the crowd to “make some noise” and “get in the way” to protect universal access to the polls.
“The vote is precious,” he said. “It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in our democracy, and we have to use it.”
Lewis was 23 when he spoke at the March in 1963. A year-and-a-half later, he was beaten by police in Alabama as he led civil rights demonstrators across the bridge in Selma.
He spoke on Saturday alongside other senior Democrats, black leaders, union officials and others at one of several commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.