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Congressman John Lewis reflected on the importance of non-violent movements and the lives of three civil rights champions — Rep. Louis Stokes, Mr. Julian Bond, and Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson — and implored the next generation of civil rights activists to pick up the baton passed to them in this week’s edition of the CBC Message to America.

“These great men and this woman are part of a long and tireless legacy of leadership in the continued struggle our people have waged to help to make us a more fair, more just democracy,” said Lewis.

Congressman Lewis reminded Americans that despite all the negativity we hear in the news regarding Blacks, dealing with police brutality, mass incarceration, low graduation rates, inter-community violence, and health disparities, the stories of African-Americans’ sacrifice and “struggle on behalf of every American to make this a better nation” fail to see the light of day.

Rep. Lewis said that as one generation of “nonviolent warriors” fades away, it passes “the torch of transformation [and] change” to the next generation of civil rights activists.

“Democracy is not a state, but is involvement, participation, sometimes confrontation and agitation to make sure that we as a nation live up to the divine mission of this nation,” said Lewis. He added to ensure that our society is made into a true democracy and not “just a legacy of inspiration,” the torch, “the symbol of our contribution as a people is passed to you.”

Representative Lewis closed his remarks saying, “You have heard that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, ‘I have a dream,’ but did you know also he said at the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, ‘if you protest courageously and yet with dignity and love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historian will have to pick up pen and pause and say there lived a people, a Black people, who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of our civilization.”

Hear what else Congressman John Lewis had to say about the legacy of the nonviolent civil rights movement and passing the torch in the video above.

Be sure to watch previous CBC Messages To America on YouTube.

For more information about the Congressional Black Caucus, visit


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Congressman John Lewis Passes Torch To New Class Of Civil Rights Leaders In CBC Address  was originally published on