John Lewis: In His Own Words

10 Memorable Quotes from the Civil Rights Legend

Civil Rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis died Friday night. Lewis was 80 years old and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year.

Below are some of the beloved Congressman’s notable quotes.

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”


“I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble.”

“We are one people with one family. We all live in the same house… and through books, through information, we must find a way to say to people that we must lay down the burden of hate. For hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”

“It was not enough to come and listen to a great sermon or message every Sunday morning and be confined to those four walls and those four corners. You had to get out and do something.”

“If you’re not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you’re consistent, you will succeed.”

“The civil rights movement was based on faith. Many of us who were participants in this movement saw our involvement as an extension of our faith. We saw ourselves doing the work of the Almighty. Segregation and racial discrimination were not in keeping with our faith, so we had to do something.”

“There may be some difficulties, some interruptions, but as a nation and as a people, we are going to build a truly multiracial, democratic society that maybe can emerge as a model for the rest of the world.”

“There are still forces in America that want to divide us along racial lines, religious lines, sex, class. But we’ve come too far; we’ve made too much progress to stop or to pull back. We must go forward. And I believe we will get there.”

“The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.”

“I always felt growing up that in the South there was evil but also good – so much good.”

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