Exclusive - John Lewis Extended Interview

August 8, 2016 - John Lewis 08/08/2016 Views: 1,762

Representative John Lewis weighs in on the Black Lives Matter movement and discusses his experience at Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in "March: Book Three." (7:12)

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We're here withCongressman Lewis, John Lewis,

who is, um, talking to usabout his new book, March.

A powerful book,a powerful life you've lived.

Inspiration through and through.

People talk aboutthe Black Lives Matter movement

all the time, and say,

"That's not something MartinLuther King would have done.

"That's not howhe would have handled it.

Martin Luther Kingwouldn't be proud."

You knewMartin Luther King, Jr.

You were out there marching.

When you see Black Lives Matter,

what are the thingsthat you commend?

And I guess then after,we'll talk about

what are the things where youthink they can improve.

For many of the young peoplethat are taking part

in the Black Lives Mattermovement, reading March...

We had a young ladyin Louisiana

who read the book,

and she emergedas one of the leaders there.

She, uh... she marched,she got arrested,

and, uh, went to jail.

But when the police officerwas murdered,

when the young man was murdered,

she had a vision for the...for the young black man

and for the police officers.

March is a blueprint.

It is a road map.

It's for now,it is for the future.

We're saying to the young peopleof America

and the young peopleof the world...

You know, in London,there is a...

unbelievable movementgrowing there

of Black Lives Matter.

It's spreadingall across America.

And I thinkMartin Luther King, Jr. would be

very proud to see youngAfrican-American,

young white American,young Latinos and Asian-American

and Native Americancoming 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 redeemthe soul of the world

and save this little planet.

For... for peoplewho are fundamentally opposed

to, uh, Black Lives Matter,

people who say...

the movement itselfinspires hate--

you know,why are things being broken,

why are there marches

where peopleare burning things down?

You... you werea founder of the SNCC,

which was a student councilthat was specifically designed

around nonviolence.

That wasan important distinction

that you had to make--I've always been fascinated

as to why you madethat distinction.

Well, we studied.

We prepared ourselves.

We studied the lifeand teaching of Gandhi.

We studied Thoreauand civil disobedience.

We studied about what washappening in South Africa.

Uh, we heard about Mandela...and others,

and... we acceptedthe way of nonviolence

as a way of life,as a way of living.

You know, during the '60s,I was arrested 40 times,

and since I've been in congress,another five times,

and I'm probably gonnaget arrested again

-for something else. But...-(laughter)

but you have to be prepared...

to say, "You may beat me,you may arrest me

and throw me in jail."

I almost died on that bridgefor the right to vote.

I gave a little blood, butother people gave their lives.

When you say that...

there are some peoplein the community who say...

"I'm tired of giving my blood.

I'm tired of...having our blood spilt."

And then there are a fewwho say, "I am going to act

against thosewho spill the blood."

How do you speak to those peoplewho have a lot of pain,

who have a lot of anger,who have a lot of fear?

How do you...how do you speak to them, then?

We must not be afraid.

We must be hopeful.

We must be optimistic.

We must never hate.

As Dr. King would say,

hate is too heavya burden to bear.

You know, we cannot createa society at peace with itself.

Because hating each other,

putting each other down...

And March: Book One, Book Two

and, now, Book Three,

tell the-the story

of how another generationof young people...

I remember so wellthe first time I got arrested

and went to jail.

I was 20 years old,

and I wanted to look good.

We heard we would maybeget arrested and go to jail.

I wanted a new suit.

I had very little money.

So I went to a used men's storein downtown Nashville

and bought a suit with a vest.

I paid five dollarsfor this suit.

And I looked really sharpin that suit.

I really looked clean and fresh.

And if I had that suit today

I probably could sell iton eBay for a lot of money.

(audience laughs)

The, uh...the movement has changed.

Uh, the world changes.

You were there... I mean,

part of what you weremarching for

is what resulted in the V...

in the-the Voting Rights Actof 1965,

uh, coming to fruition.

Was there a part of you thatthought you had done your job?

You're like, "This is it.Racism's done."

No. Never.

It's an ongoing struggle.

A struggle is not a strugglethat lasts for a few days,

a few weeks or a few monthsor a few years.

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 continueto move our feet.

Continue to push and pull.

Not just to make America better,

but to make our planeta little better.

There are people who sayAmerica is great,

America no longer has problemswith racism,

America is done.

There are peoplewho are working against,

uh, the-the Voter Rights Act,

saying that it's no longer '65--

there are no more dogsand fire hoses.

These rules do not need to bein place anymore.

-Why do you still needthese-these rules? -No, I...

I-I would disagree.America is great

and we can make America greater,

but we still have problems.

When you have, um, states--

whether it's North Carolinaor-or Texas

or some other places--trying to make it harder

and more difficult, that'swhy the courts a few days ago

-acted.-Yeah.

They want to take us back,

but we've come too far,

made too much progressto 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 havein our democratic society.

We should make it easyand simple

for everybody to participate.

Powerful words. Thank you, sir.

-Thank you.-Thank you for being here.

-(cheering and applause)-Thank you.

I cannot recommend this bookenough.

It is fascinating. It is a novelthat takes you through

a beautiful story. It'sa biography. It is a comic book.

It is a graphic illustration.It is everything in one.

March: Book 3 is available now.