When U.S. Rep. John Lewis was growing up in rural Alabama, he used to question his mother about the signs labeled "white" and "colored" that prevented African-Americans from eating wherever they chose or even from using certain public water fountains.
“She would say that is the way it is. Don’t get in the way; don’t get in trouble,” Lewis recalled, when he surprised the Democratic National Convention’s women's caucus during their meeting Thursday. “Rosa Parks inspired me to get in trouble. And all these many years, I’ve been getting in trouble.”
The civil rights icon called on Democratic women to join him and in the process help President Obama get re-elected. Citing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, legislation that the president signed into law mandating equal pay for women, and opposition to government telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies, Lewis said that Republicans “want to take us back to another period.”
“But we must stand up and say we are not going back. We’ve come too far. We’ve made too much progress to go back,” Lewis said to cheers. “We cannot go back.”
Lewis recalled Bloody Sunday, when he was left unconscious and bloody on a bridge in Selma, Alabama, during the famous civil rights march in 1965. He almost died that day.
“But I’m still here. As long as I am still here I am going to continue to fight with you and fight the good fight in the Congress. And in the next few days I’m going across America and telling everybody we’ve got to re-elect President Barack Obama.”
The women, who Lewis urged to “march to the polls like we’ve never marched before,” got the message, jumping up en masse in a rallying cry for “four more years!”
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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)