Omaha Public Radio News
2:41 am
Fri October 10, 2008

Civil Rights leader visits Omaha

Omaha, NE – Omaha's Durham Museum is hosting an exhibit that gives first-person accounts of some of America's historic events.

The exhibit is called Eyewitness: American Originals from the National Archives. It's on display at the Durham Museum through January. Among the first-person accounts featured are those of Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Lewis was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, leading marches and voter registration events in the South.

Lewis spoke to High School and College students Friday at the Durham. He says he was inspired to join the Civil Rights Movement in 1955 after hearing about Rosa Parks. He became involved in the movement after being invited to Montgomery, Alabama by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lewis was arrested in 1965 while leading a voter registration event in Selma, Alabama. A few days later, a young man was shot and killed in Marion, Alabama at a similar event. Lewis says that led to what's known as the Bloody Sunday march. He and 600 others marched from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights. Many of the marchers, including Lewis, were attacked by State Troopers. Lewis was beaten with a nightstick, causing a concussion that left him hospitalized.

He says the Bloody Sunday march led to the introduction of the Voting Rights Act, which President Johnson signed in to law in August 1965. Lewis says America is better today because of it.

Click on the link above to hear Congressman Lewis' speech.